This is the last article on national assessment. You will recall that we said national assessment is a research designed to test the system as opposed to testing the individual, which is the prerogative of an examination. However, both employ the use of tests of different formats.

National assessment is a very expensive exercise. It should be implemented after a thorough consideration of why it should be done, what should be done, how it should be done, and how the results are going to be used.

In Part 1 article of national assessment, we clearly indicated the importance of spelling out the purpose of the study to aid optimal utilisation of scarce resources. It must be understood that the substance of the study outcomes is dependent on the quality of all the activities.

For national assessment findings to be effectively implemented, appropriate structures should be in place. One such structure is the Coordinating Office, to ensure synchronised implementation to achieve the intended purpose.

Once the findings are ready, they should be widely disseminated to inform the stakeholders about the status of the education system and to generate debate about educational matters in an effort to chart the way forward.

At its best, information about learner achievements can inform debate about education, which, in turn, can contribute to increased public support for efforts to improve the system.

As such, dissemination should be well-budgeted for otherwise the good findings will not see the light of the day. Most of the time, all the budget is used for the conduct of the study and nothing is left for dissemination.

It should be understood that dissemination is an integral part for a successful conduct of national assessment. Effective dissemination requires a well thought-out communication strategy to alert target audiences to the availability of information about the national assessment and encourage them to find out more.

The stakeholders of the education system are many and varied. The most important stakeholder is the Minister of Education and his/her senior officers. The study findings should be presented to him first.

The other important stakeholder to know about the study findings is the Coordinating Office. Face to face national disseminations should be conducted with stakeholders including the general public at the kgotla.

Certainly, parents are the important stakeholders in the education system and more often than not, are always considered last, if not forgotten in decision-making processes that affect education.

The media plays an important part in disseminating national assessment information to the public. Thoroughly briefing through press conferences and issuing press release about the findings helps them to publish credible information for a wider readership.

The civic society also needs to be engaged on the study findings through various means. More importantly, national assessment produces a lot of data, which should be made available to the general public for further enquiry by scholars.

However, that should be done without necessarily compromising confidentiality of the assessment participants. Furthering dissemination for effective utilisation of national assessment results, a variety of summary reports and policy briefs should be produced targeting varying stakeholders.

More often than not, learners are always forgotten when the findings about their performance is disseminated. In the modern day of technology, extensive web sites should be used to disseminate the information.

Another effective dissemination to enhance public awareness is commentary by significant figures on assessment on print, social and broadcast media.

National assessment findings often suffer underuse despite the huge costs incurred in obtaining the information. Findings are likely to be underused when the national assessment is divorced from everyday educational activities.

This situation is likely to arise when national assessment activity is one for the first time. Underuse is also likely to occur when stakeholders who are in a position to act on the findings, were not involved in the design and implementation of an assessment.

In the previous articles, we stressed the importance of quality assurance in all the study steps, because they aid in validating the study outcomes. Improper conduct of one results in questionable findings leading to potential users doubting the credibility of the findings. The assessment findings may also be underused if thorough communication was not made to the relevant actors particularly practitioners.

Furthermore, unless the political will is committed and prepared to accept the findings as they are, findings that portray socioeconomic and educational inequalities associated with ethnic, racial, or religious group membership, may be rejected, leading to attempts not to make the findings public. Yes, it’s possible!

The Author holds PhD in ‘Assessment & Quality Assurance’ and writes in his personal capacity as a Psychometric Researcher. Contact/WhatsApp: 71713446 or [email protected] or facebook page: Trust Mbako Masole