We have not found a single source of examination papers to cover school-level mathematics education for the various grades. Whereas the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) has a collection of old exam papers for the Grade 12 level, and also the ANA examination papers, there are no source of papers for the other grades, which would be a useful resource for both educators and learners as part of teaching and learning practice, as well as for researchers in mathematics assessment who would wish to explore trends in summative assessment practices.
The goal is not only to create a repository of past examination papers, but also to provide analyses of the problems and questions on these papers to help to determine good vs bad questions. A good question would be one which helps to determine learner proficiency on a reliable basis, and a bad question would be one for which the answers and responses do not give such an indication of proficiency.
The primary repository will be structured by Grade, and by Source, being the examining body or the creator of the examination paper. The repository will be structured as PDF documents.
The primary outcome of this programme will be a repository of examination papers, which will be arranged by Year, Source, and Grade, with the intention of creating a historical archives going back as far in time as can be obtained.
A second outcome will be a set of norms and standards concerning the evaluation of examination of examination papers in terms of various criteria and dimensions, including the following:
- validity (is this capable of measuring the constructs which it is intended to measure)
- reliability (will this produce similar results in similar circumstances
- timing (how long a paper should take to answer),
- language (is the language used in the examination suited for the learners to understand the questions)
- pre-requisite knowledge (does this assume too much prior knowledge), and
- level (is this at the right level for learners at the given grade).
Examination papers are not readily available and the actions will be to research possible sources and to accession as many as possible. Thus our actions in achieving the programme goals will be larger pro-active, identifying sources, and requesting access to their own archives of examination papers. As part of this we will offer to digitise these papers which exist mostly in paper form, so that they can restart their life as digital objects.