DEPARTMENT OF EXAMINATIONS DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
The major functions of this Department are to:
- Set and moderate all examination papers administered by the Council;
- Develop and regulate examinations formats in accordance with the syllabuses developed by the Tanzania Institute of Education and authorized by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training;
- Supervise the marking of all examinations administered by the Council;
- Propose cut-off points for awarding candidates;
- Prepare and issue examiners' reports of candidates' performance on the various examinations;
- Advise the Executive Secretary on selection of examiners;
- Provide written comments on the standard and level of difficulty of the papers set and performance of the examiners (setters, moderators and markers).;
TYPES OF EXAMINATIONS
Examinations are held in three seasons:
(a)November examinations season
Examinations held are:
- Qualifying Test (Q.T.)
- Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE)
(b)May examinations season:
Examinations held are:
- Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (ACSEE).
- Diploma in Education Examination (DEE)
- Grade A Teachers' Certificate Examination (GATCE)
(c)September examination season:
The only examination held in this season is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and it is administered in the second week of September.
NECTA acts as an agent for some Foreign Examining Boards from the United Kingdom.Most of these foreign examining boards have their examinations held in May/June and December/January every year.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXAMINATIONS
(a)Setting of question papers
- In any subject area, setters chosen must have excellent academic qualifications in the subject being assessed. For all the above exams except the PSLE they will normally be university graduates who are conversant with the syllabus content and the mode of teaching that takes place in the schools. They should be teaching and must have taught at the level they are assessing for not less than 3 years
- Every year the Council sends out to all schools and colleges what we call Inventory of Examiners forms through which the Head of School/Institution of a prospective setter is requested to provide a detailed confidential report on the teacher on matters pertaining to teaching ability, integrity, ability to handle confidential documents and dedication to work. Only after a favourable confidential report is received does the Council decide to appoint the teacher as a setter. Each appointed setter is normally requested to set two alternative papers
- Ideally all prospective setters should be provided with some basic training in psychometrics and other essential technicalities required for the development of good test items. Unfortunately this is not done at the moment. Setters just rely on their knowledge as teachers and on the job experience. Although appointments of setters are for a particular examination only, setters are normally retained for the purpose of establishing consistency in examinations as well as a bank of experienced setters.
(b)Moderation of question papers
- This is usually carried out by a panel of 2-3 people for each subject. As is the case for setters a favourable confidential report must be received before NECTA decides to appoint a person as a moderator.
- Members of the moderation panel are usually curriculum Developers, School Inspectors, University Lecturers or experienced teachers who should not be teaching the candidates at the material time.
- The moderators ensure that the items and questions are representative of the syllabus content and objectives and are of the appropriate difficulty for the level being assessed.They also check to ensure the format and rubric of the paper is correct and that the vocabulary used and weighting of each item are also appropriate.
- Moderators are normally requested to come up with 3 sets of moderated papers for each examination paper. Although moderators are supposed to be provided with 3 draft papers from setters out of which they can make one good paper, this is usually not the case because the number of draft papers received from setters is often far below the expected figure. Some teachers after receiving the appointment letters as setters simply don't respond, probably due to their incompetence in test construction techniques.
QUALITY AND QUALITY CONTROL
(a)NECTA has established examination formats and guidelines, which address and standardize such issues as test purposes, lengths, rubrics and blueprints.
(b)However, in considering the quality of examinations, it is also necessary to address issues concerning the validity and reliability of the examination in question. The importance of having sound psychometric properties in general lies in the interpretation of the results of the examination or assessment instruments.
(c)Although we very well understand that examinations must be valid and reliable in the sense that they should be able to consistently provide information that is relevant to the decisions to be made from the examination results and the kind of generalizations that can be made from the scores of that examination, it is unfortunate that no comprehensive and systematic analyses and documentation on the validity and reliability has been undertaken on NECTA's examinations.
(d)I am sure this inadequacy is not unique to NECTA. Most examining Boards which conduct Public examinations to a large scale experience serious limitations in fulfilling the ideals of test development. The workload in terms of types of examinations and number of papers developed is normally so big that we find it impossible to do away with the traditional or conventional ways of conducting examinations.
(e)Despite the apparent lack of comprehensive documentation on reliability and validity of the National Examinations in Tanzania, the quality of these examinations is defensible for several reasons. All examinations cited are set by subject matter experts and moderated by NECTA, thereby ensuring their quality. In addition the administration procedures of these examinations are centrally formulated, controlled and monitored for the same purpose of controlling for quality and standards.