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ERIC Number: EJ892796
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0258-2236
A Blurred Signal? The Usefulness of National Senior Certificate (NSC) Mathematics Marks as Predictors of Academic Performance at University Level
Schoer, Volker; Ntuli, Miracle; Rankin, Neil; Sebastiao, Claire; Hunt, Karen
Perspectives in Education, v28 n2 p9-18 Jun 2010
Internationally, performance in school Mathematics has been found to be a reliable predictor of performance in commerce courses at university level. Based on the predictive power of school-leaving marks, universities use results from school-leaving Mathematics examinations to rank student applicants according to their predicted abilities. However, in 2008 the structure and scope of school-leaving examinations changed in South Africa from the former Senior Certificate (SC) to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC). This structural break seems to create fluctuations in the signalling ability of the school-leaving marks. South African universities are unsure about how well the current NSC Mathematics marks reflect the underlying numerical competence of students, given that a high number of the 2009 student intake failed their first-year core courses across faculties. This paper estimates a deflator for the new NSC Mathematics marks relative to the former Higher Grade (HG) Mathematics marks, by comparing performance in similar first tests of two commerce subjects, Economics 1 and Computational Mathematics, between the 2008 and 2009 first-year cohorts. The results indicate that the signalling ability of the NSC Mathematics marks is reduced significantly. Instead of differentiating students according to their abilities, the new NSC Mathematics marks compress students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities into a very narrow range of percentage marks.
Perspectives in Education. Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa. Fax: +27-51-401-7044; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa