Competency-based assessment skills for teachers impact rural schools in Western Uganda
In a pursuit to improve learning outcomes through quality and inclusive education, effective assessment by teachers plays a pivotal role in facilitating learners' advancement to the next level.
In a pursuit to improve learning outcomes through quality and inclusive education, effective assessment by teachers plays a pivotal role in facilitating learners' advancement to the next level. To achieve this, teachers must continually evaluate their teaching methods and the assessment of learners to ensure effective teaching and learning are taking place. However, the National Assessment of Progress in Education (NAPE) conducted by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) in 2012 and 2014 reveals a significant gap in teachers' assessment knowledge and practices.
According to the assessment, close to 52 per cent of teachers in Uganda considered the curriculum merely as a tool for test preparation, while 80 per cent could not accurately describe the requirements for preparing a standard test. Additionally, 15 per cent of teachers were unable to identify a test blueprint, and 71 per cent relied on commercial test providers as their primary source of exams despite a ban from the Ministry of Education and Sports due to their lack of alignment with learners' content level.
To address this pressing issue and enhance foundational literacy and numeracy skills and the overall quality of education, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) in collaboration with UNICEF are providing training on competency-based assessment (CBA) to equip teachers with skills to effectively assess learners. The initiative aims to improve foundational literacy and numeracy and learning achievements for all learners, by building skills of teachers in 29 districts in Uganda between 2022 and 2025. NAPE results are measured using proficiency levels because NAPE follows the principles of competence-based assessment.
“Before the training, we would set test questions for only one class, P5 for example, which not beneficial to the learners. Now we have learned how to set tests based on what children have learned from P1 to P5 to observe progress in learning,” Janet Masika, a dedicated teacher at Nyabugando Primary School in Kasese District, expresses her newfound confidence in assessing students' progress.
The impact of CBA is evident at Birunduma Primary School in Isingiro District where teachers and parents are witnessing noticeable improvements in learning achievements. Previously, teachers at the school relied on external exams to assess pupils but with the newly acquired knowledge and skills in CBA, teachers are optimistic about improved performance of learners in 2023.
Nakagawa Phidia, a teacher who attended the CBA training, shared her experience, "the training helped us assess learners based on their competencies and what they have covered according to the curriculum. Previously, we purchased exams, but after the training, we felt no need to buy them."
The impact of CBA on the learners is also evident. Ninsiima Treasure, a P7 pupil at Birunduma Primary School, acknowledges the positive change in the way teachers now set tests. She enthusiastically shares, "teachers are now setting questions based on what we have learned in class.”
Parents, guardians, and caregivers have not been left behind in the quest to ensure children in their communities are getting quality education. Through community engagement, led by School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs), awareness is raised, social mobilization is conducted, and district-level advocacy takes place to enhance parent-support in the learning of their children at school and at home including monitoring teachers’ performance in undertaking continuous assessment using the newly acquired CBA skills. The goal is to bring about positive social and behavioural change that enriches the learning experience and ensures quality and inclusive education for children and adolescents in schools.
In 2023, Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) collaboration with UNICEF and with funding from the United States Agency for International Development USAID Mission recovery programme has supported the Ministry of Education and Sports to train 1,000 teachers (653 males and 347 females) from 210 schools in seven districts in the Western and Mid-Western regions, including Kasese, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Kyegegwa, Kikuube, Mubende, and Kamwenge.