The department is responsible for developing objective tests of the Grade 7 Composite Examination. It is also responsible for carrying our relevant research commissioned by any department or Committee of the council. In addition, the department is responsible for the Implementation of the Continuous Assessment Programmes on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational and early Education. Furthermore, the department is responsible for the conduct of the national Assessment programme as well as the production of the National Assessment Reports for the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education. Over and above this, the department is the custodian of all examination statistics for use for awards, standard fixing, selection as well as research.
Departmental Vision Statement:
The department is the Provision of timely assessment and certification services that mirror the competencies of learners and that of the educational system in a prospering economy.
Departmental Mission Statement:
“Is to provide an effective and efficient system for setting and conducting assessments of comparable international standards”
The Legal Framework and Charges from the Council Specific to the Department
- Carry out relevant research in examinations;
- Advise any public institution on development and use of any system of testing or examining when requested to do so;
- Formulate syllabuses for examinations;
- Promote international recognition of qualifications conferred by the Council;
- Approve or reject appointment of examiners;
- Organise training courses for, or arrange for training of examiners, markers, supervisors, invigilators and other persons connected with examinations; and
- Invite any person or body either in or outside Zambia to assist the Council in the conduct of examinations.
The development Policy context for RTD department are Anchored on Educating Our Future.The responsibilities include
- To seek evidence that the curriculum, which is comprehensive, balanced, integrated, diversified and relevant to the real needs of both the pupil and society, is well understood, taught and learnt pursuant to vision 2030;
- To ensure that pupils master essential literacy and numeracy skills in lower and middle basic education;
- To implement a comprehensive programme of school-based pupil assessment and feedback that should be an integral part of the teaching and learning process in every school.
Background to Research and Test Development (RTD) Department
There has been significant developments in the area of assessments and examinations in the last 20 or so years. These developments have fundamentally challenged the traditional assessment practices and calls for new thinking, new ideas and new approaches to assessment in general
Notably, we want to persuade ourselves that the divide between the developed and undeveloped world (or whatever term befits the describer) must not extend to the science and art of testing. Further economic fortunes of any state should not prescribe the kind of assessments to be applied.
For ECZ to achieve this, the function of test development has been delineated in a non obscure manner with research playing a pivotal role in informing the test development process. An inbuilt framework for quality control checks in this regard needs to be understood in clear terms. This is meant to produce error free examination papers.
Other dimensions that the new restructure aims to address include:
- aspects of examination integrity and confidentiality
- security of examinations items through electronic item banking
- placing greater responsibility of integrity and security on the ECZ employees
- Reducing on practices that can undermine the integrity of examinations.
Strategic Focus: “ To Develop and use appropriate assessment schemes including formulation of examinations syllabi”
The Fact Sheet for RTD is such that the Department has a network of over 3,000 Item Writers and draft paper setters for all levels. Over 130 teams of panels comprising 533 total members who participate in panel meetings in the ECZ Committee rooms. This is stretched over a period 16 weeks or more with an average of 8 panels meeting every week for this period. Over 2000 examiners who are invited to come and mark Grade 12, supervised by EAD but Coordinated by RTD Officers who are the contact persons and prepare the invitations. They are the gate keepers and largely place themselves in harm’s way. Other activities under the Examinations syllabi development and assessment scheming include
- Commissioning Draft Paper and Item Setters
- Coordinating panel meetings for item and paper setting
- Grade 7 Pre-testing of the objective type questions
- Proof reading and quality checks
- Item Banking
- Paper Typesetting
- Scope of the Assessments e.g. Grade 7 and 9, Grade 12
“To conduct empirical and applied research that provides diagnostic information on the education system performance in order to influence evidence based decision making.” The Department also conducts research on examination issues . Some of the surveys done include National Assessment Programme ( 1999 survey, 2001 survey, 2002 mini survey (ESDS), 2003 survey, 2006 survey, 2008 survey, Introduction of the Grade 9 National Assessment and Continuous Assessment Programme
Advisory Services, Innovation and Development
The Department also provides advisory services where testing and research is concerned. The S
Strategic Focus; “ToEnhance professional advisory services to other organisations on assessment, testing and research.”
- A framework for interactive knowledge sharing and its propagation has been conceptualised. ECZ will be an institution that is constantly learning, reflective, self critical and development oriented.
The Research and Test Development will also aspire for the best in terms of excellence in service provision.