quantitative literacy, numeracy, mathematical literacy, assessment, testing
The National Benchmark Test Project (NBTP) was commissioned by Higher Education South Africa in 2005 to assess the academic proficiency of prospective students. The competencies assessed include quantitative literacy using the NBTP QL test. This instrument is a criterion-referenced multiple-choice test developed collaboratively by South African academics and provides complementary information to that provided by the norm-referenced school-leaving examination. In this paper we outline the theoretical framework that provides the foundation for the NBTP QL test and describe the test construct. In the QL test specifications, there are three dimensions specified for each item: the competencies (reasoning and behaviour) that are required to answer the item correctly, the main mathematical and statistical ideas the item addresses, and a characterisation of the level of cognitive processing the item calls for. The results are reported using benchmarks which place students’ scores into proficiency bands which indicate the extent to which curricula should be responsive to their level of preparedness. We discuss the extent to which the NBTP QL test is succeeding in contributing to meeting the goals of the NBT project. The test is intended to provide institutions with information that will assist with admissions and placement decisions, but the QL test scores are not used uniformly for these purposes across the higher education sector. The NBTP QL test results show that the majority of students are severely underprepared for the QL demands of higher education and that a comprehensive systemic response requiring curriculum change at many levels is required.
Frith, Vera, and Robert N. Prince. "The National Benchmark Quantitative Literacy Test for Applicants to South African Higher Education." Numeracy 11, Iss. 2 (2018): Article 3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5038/1936-46188.8.131.52
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