Practicals, essays and no multiple choice questions in first CBC tests

A Grade 3 pupil at Kirawa Road School counts his fingers to solve mathematical exam questions during the nationwide CBC assessment examination on January 31, 2022.[Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Learners undertaking school-based assessments are expected to write short essay answers and do practical activities that are scored.

Details of the ongoing Grade 3, 4 and 5 assessments show that the multiple choice questions associated with the 8-4-4 system have been eliminated.

Sample questions for the test papers for various grades seen by The Standard show that learners are required to apply the knowledge they acquired during class lessons.

These are the new realities of assessments under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) being rolled out in the new 2-6-3-3-3 education system.

At the end of every assessment, learners will earn a maximum of 20 marks, totaling to 60 at the end of Grade Six. The assessments end on Friday.

The end of primary national examination that will be administered at the end of Grade Six will only constitute 40 marks.

This means Grade Six learners will not only sit the school-based assessments for the 20 marks, but will also write a national examination managed by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) at the end of their education.

Examinations under CBC regime are referred to as Competency Based Assessments (CBA) and they entail a balance between formative and summative assessments to inform the feedback on learning progress and transition across the various levels of basic and tertiary education and training.

Across the school assessments, teachers use tools such as written tests, observation schedules, assessment rubrics, project portfolios, checklists, questionnaire, oral/aural questioning, anecdotal records and journals.

Overall under CBC, learners in Grade 1 to 3 are taught literacy, Kiswahili Language Activities/Kenya Sign Language for learners who are deaf, English Language Activities, Indigenous Language Activities and Mathematical Activities.

They are also taught Environmental Activities, Hygiene and Nutrition Activities, Religious Education Activities, Movement and Creative Activities.

A look at Grade Three mathematics question papers show learners are being assessed on there key areas of numbers, measurements and geometry. Basic tasks on addition, subtraction, division and multiplication are covered under numbers.

Mass and capacity, length, time and money tasks are assessed under measurement while under geometry, learners are tested on position and direction and shapes.

“One day, a policeman donated 827 masks in the morning. In the afternoon, he donated 91 masks. How many masks did he donate al- together?” reads one of the questions testing addition.

Another question testing subtraction read: “A factory made 967 blankets. It sold 385 of the blankets. How many blankets remained?”

Under English activities, learners are assessed on reading comprehension, language structures and functions. They also have a session for writing a composition.

According to CBC taskforce report, each learner will be given a tracking number at Grade 3, which will be used to monitor their progress as they transition in the subsequent education levels.

In Grades 1 to 3, teachers are expected to conduct classroom assessment. Knec develops standardised assessment tools to be administered, scored and feedback given to individual learners by teachers in their respective schools.

Knec will only set, administer and supervise national examinations in Grade 6, 9 and 12 during the entire basic education journey of children.

Grade Four to Six learners are taught English, Kiswahili or Kenya Sign Language (for learners who are deaf), Home Science, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Mathematics, Religious Education (CRE/IRE/HRE), Creative Arts, Physical and Health Education and Social Studies.

Grade 4, 5 and 6 school-based assessments assist in informing mastery of competencies and readiness of learners to transition, and provide feedback to stakeholders such as learners, parents, teachers in subsequent grades and curriculum developers.

Primary school teachers who spoke to The Standard said each question in the ongoing assessments require learners to think and apply knowledge based on items learnt in class.

“The good thing is that for practical subjects, learners are supposed to go out and carry out activities which are scored based on how they perform. This is unlike previous years where even practical questions were done just on paper,” said a teacher.

Johnstone Nzioka, the Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) chairman, said the assessments are practical oriented and help children to think.

"It is no longer about memorization. It is about application of knowledge and thinking," said Nzioka.

It also emerged the school environment is not tense even though the assessments are taken seriously by learners as scores are uploaded on Knec portal.

Under Grade 4 Social Sstudies for instance, the learners are being assessed community service engagements, structure of county government, maps and identification of physical features and values among other areas.

“Grade 4 learners have started a project of rearing rabbits in their school. Give two values that they should observe in order to manage the money for the project,” reads one of the questions.

Another question reads: “Your class has been asked to talk about qualities of a good community leader during the school’s parent meeting. Write two quality that you will talk about day.”

Learners have also been asked to “Write two ways in which children with special needs may be abused by other people in the society.”

Under Grade 4 Science and Technology, learners are assessed based on some of the activities they may have done during lessons. For instance, learners are for instance asked to label parts of a human being and stating their functions. Identifying and naming clouds, explaining various parts of a water filter and understanding floatation.

“Learners observed a cloud in the sky. The learners concluded that it was likely to rain. Name the cloud they observed,” reads one of the questions.

A Grade Four teacher who spoke to The Standard said: “Some of these questions were drawn from class activities that were done practical sessions and its basically assessing children’s understanding.”

The questions are split sections, each assessing various tasks. For example, tasks on living things, environment, digital technology, matter, force and energy and also earth and space.

Similar aspects are assessed science subject for Grade Five learners. “The picture below shows a learner squeezing a balloon filled with air during a lesson on characteristics of gases. Write two characteristics of gases the learner was demonstrating,” reads another question.

On Grade Four mathematics, three areas of numbers, measurements and geometry, data handling and Algebra are assessed.

“A textbook costs Sh445 and a storybook costs Sh267 in a bookshop. Mary rounded off the cost of each book to the nearest 10. What was the difference in the cost of the books after rounding off?” reads one of the questions. And just like in Kiswahili, the English questions asses reading comprehension, grammar and writing.