Original Research

Continuous assessment and matriculation examination marks – An empirical examination

Servaas van der Berg, Debra Shepherd
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 5, No 2 | a391 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v5i2.391 | © 2015 Servaas van der Berg, Debra Shepherd | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2015 | Published: 07 December 2015

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Servaas van der Berg, University of Stellenbosch
Debra Shepherd, Stellenbosch University

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This study analyses information and feedback from matriculation level continuous assessment in the South African education system. Continuous assessment (CASS) at the time carried a 25% weight in the final matriculation (Grade 12) mark, and it provides feedback that affects examination preparation and effort. Weak assessment in schools sends wrong signals to students that may have important consequences for the way they approach the final examination. Moreover, similarly wrong signals earlier in their school careers may also have affected their subject choice and career planning.
This study compares CASS data to the externally assessed matric exam marks for a number of subjects. There are two signalling dimensions to inaccurate assessments: (i) Inflated CASS marks can give students a false sense of security and lead to diminished exam effort. (ii) A weak correlation between CASS and the exam marks could mean poor signalling in another dimension: Relatively good students may get relatively low CASS marks. Such low correlations indicate poor assessment reliability, as the examination and continuous assessment should both be testing mastery of the same national curriculum. The paper analyses the extent of each of these dimensions of weak signalling in South African schools and draws disturbing conclusions for a large part of the school system.


Economics of Education, assessment, asymmetric information, signalling, South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Identifying Binding Constraints in Education
Servaas van der Berg, Nicholas Spaull, Gabrielle Wills, Martin Gustafsson, Janeli Kotzz
SSRN Electronic Journal   year: 2016  
doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2906945