Whether KCPE examination will be retained or scrapped now rests with Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha.
Details from the curriculum implementation committee retreat, which ended on Tuesday in Naivasha, reveal that the team has suggested that no national examinations should be administered at the end of Grade Six, effectively signalling the death of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) test.
The Standard has, however, learnt that one major national assessment has been introduced at the end of junior secondary education (Grade Nine) and will be used to place students to senior high schools.
Under the 2-6-3-3-3 education system, learners are expected to study for two years at pre-primary before proceeding to Grade One to Six (three years in lower primary and three in the upper primary). After this, learners will transit to Grades Seven to Nine (junior secondary) before proceeding to Grades 10 to 12 (senior secondary school).
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The committee has proposed national assessments at Grades Four, Six, Nine and 12.
In the absence of national examinations, Grade Six assessment will only be used to gauge children’s understanding of learning areas under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
Grade Nine assessment, which will be done after three years of secondary learning, will guide placement of students to the three pathways as envisioned in the CBC.
Grade 12 examination will be used to place students to universities and colleges after six years of secondary education.
New national test
The plan to introduce a new national test in high schools was made clear last year in Naivasha during a meeting between the Ministry of Education and National Assembly Education Committee.
Prof Magoha told MPs the government would administer national examinations at the end of Grade Nine and Grade 12 of the CBC.
“As a government, we have decided that there will be an examination after Year Nine and after Year 12. The discourse of Year Six will be for the task-force to advise us,” Magoha told MPs then.
After being furnished with the advisory report of the committee, the CS will now make a decision on whether the KCPE national examination will be retained and also approve transition proposals to junior secondary schools.
The Standard established that the task-force chaired by Kenyatta University Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration, Fatuma Chege, was not clear on the criteria for placement of the learners to junior secondary.
This has been a sticky issue, with questions raised on the best criteria that would be used to place students to junior secondary schools if examinations are abolished.
Sources in the committee said a technical team with membership drawn from the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) was tasked to refine placement criteria to junior secondary schools.
Preliminary reports indicated that all Grade Six learners would be transited to the neighbouring high schools to start junior secondary education, a matter that drew mixed reactions from some committee members.
This was based on the thought that most primary schools have a secondary wing and transiting the children for the three years of junior secondary learning would be achieved.
Inside sources, however, noted that some members said this would deny some students the opportunity to study in prime institutions such as national or extra county schools.
“The issue will be how to manage parents’ and children’s ambitions because they study to go to Alliance High and such big schools,” said a member of the committee not authorised to speak to the media.
It also emerged that some members wanted primary schools with adequate facilities to host junior secondary schools, but the question of domiciling this level of learning had been pushed to high schools.
What was, however, clear is that a national assessment test will be administered at Grade Nine and Grade 12.
Grade Nine is an equivalent of Form One under 8-4-4. National tests administered at this level of education will be used to place students to senior secondary schools.
Sources at the committee said children would be given a chance to specialise and pick their favourite paths from this stage.
This means the Grade Nine examination will guide the placement of students to the three pathways envisioned in the CBC. It will also be used to place students to various schools based on the pathways they select.
The new curriculum requires that after junior secondary education, each student will choose what to pursue between three areas: arts and sports science; social sciences; or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
During the meeting with MPs last year, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) presented that each senior school learner would make informed decisions with regards to the pathway of choice based on the requisite infrastructure that would ensure the development of the competencies identified in that pathway.
“Within the three pathways, there are various tracks. Schools can also decide to offer one or more tracks in the pathway, depending on the ability to acquire the infrastructure necessary for the acquisition of the identified competencies,” reads the KICD report. This means that while sitting the new examination at Grade Nine, students will have to make choices based on the three named pathways.