Feedback to schools from past students indicated the increased use of multiple-choice as a regular assessment methodology in tertiary education. Furthermore, the IEB, in partnership with the Australian Council for Educational Research, offers benchmarking tests in mathematics from Grade 3 to Grade 10. Given that IEB schools have appreciated the benchmark offered by these tests in respect of their learners, the IEB realised the importance of a curriculum-based benchmark in Grade 11.
Against the backdrop of an expressed need for a minimum threshold of standards at Grade 11 as well as the expressed importance of developing skills in answering multiple choice items in high stakes assessments, the IEB introduced the Grade 11 Benchmark Test (IeBT) in Mathematics in 2012.
The purpose of the IeBT is to assess Grade 11 learners’ performance in the Grade 11 Mathematics curriculum. The results serve as both a benchmark in competence with the Grade 11 Mathematics syllabus but also an indicator of areas of concern i.e. a growth-related tool before Grade 12.
The multiple choice assessment methodology is already an integral and well established part of examining worldwide and, for students in South Africa, the importance of this assessment methodology has grown. Competence in how to deal with this methodology is a skill that student need to develop.
It is not only important for learners to have an opportunity to experience multiple choice methodologies; it is also a key professional development area for teachers. The IEB arranges workshops for teachers to equip them with the skills and understanding required to set good multiple choice questions. In addition, they become equipped with the understanding of interpreting the statistical analysis and hence use that information to improve question setting in Mathematics.