Thabo Emmanuel Rakometsi
(Student No: 9615024)
a research proposal submitted to the
Department of Post Graduate Studies (Education)
Faculty of Humanities of the
CENTRAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, FREE STATE
in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the
Postgraduate Certificate in Education (P.G.C.E.):
Introduction to Research in Education Course (INR10AB)
Supervisor: Prof. M.K. Mhlolo
16 October 2018
Preliminary Page I
Statement of independent work
I Thabo Emmanuel Rakometsi, confirm that the work for the following proposal with the
title: “Gatekeeping” was solely undertaken by myself and that no help was provided from
sources other than those allowed. All sections of the proposal that use quotes or describe
an argument or concept developed by another author have been referenced, including all
secondary literature used, to show that this material has been adopted to support my thesis.
Preliminary Page II
I would like to thank Prof. M.K. Mhlolo for teaching us how to write the proposal, the little
help from friend Jeff Kole and my wife Kenalemang, and my four children.
Preliminary Page III
List of tables
Page 11 display table 1, higher quintile (wealthier) schools have a significantly lower
occurrence of progression. There are only 17 quintile 5 schools in the Motheo district
Motheo district and 64 of the 109 progressed learners in these schools were within only
two of these schools.
Preliminary Page IV
List of figures
Page 11 display the figure of the 26 439 grade 12 candidates in the Free State in 2014,
3919 (14.8%) had been progressed to grade 12 from grade 11 at end of 2013.
Preliminary Page V
Table of contents
Statement of independent………………………………………I Acknowledgement………………………………………………II
List of tablesIII
List of figuresIV
1.1Background to the study………………..1
1.2The Statement of the Research Problem……… 1
1.3The purpose of the study…………………………11.4Research questions………………………………2
1.5The Significance of the Study……………………………2
1.6Definition of key terms……………………………………2
1.7Delimitation of the Study………………3
2REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE………….4
2.2; 2.3 2.4; 2.5; 2.6 Sub-headings (Linked to research questions)…4 to 11
3.2The Research Instrument/s……………………12
3.3Pilot testing………………………………. 123.4 The Population ……………………123.5The Sample……………………………………123.6The Sample Techniques/Procedures………………………12
3.7Data Collection Procedures…………………123.8Data Analysis Techniques…………………12
3.10Ethical Considerations……………………………………123.10Limitations of the Study………………………12
REFERENCE (Harvard Style)……………………………13 to 15
1.1 Background to the study
The statistics on the national matric pass rate will have dropped by 11.1% if almost 70 000 progressed learners had written their full final exams. These learners are made to write their exams over two years on what is called gatekeeping mechanism. The learners that are not academically inclined were retained in grade 10 and grade 11 to make the schools’ matric pass rate look good. Govender, P (2018) ‘A two-year matric’ keeps pass rate high ‘Sunday Times 07 January P.5.
1.2 The statement of the research problem
The progressed learners are expected to pass their matric final exam yet, they are
failing. According, to Motshekga (2015) following the announcement of matric results. “The matric national pass rate has dropped to 70%. This was from 75, 8% achieved in 2014. If so-called progressed learners had not been added to the total, the pass rate would have been 74%.” Progressed learners in the statement referred to the learners in grade 10 and grade 11 who failed grade in the past and repeat the grade, and moved to the next grade. Department of Education policy states that a learner can only fail once per phase.
The purpose of school is to build the learners. “Education is the great engine of personal development; it is through education that the daughter of peasant can become a doctor; that the son of a mineworker can become a head of the mine; that the child of farm worker can become the president of great nation.” Nelson Mandela.
1.3 The purpose of the study
This study will investigate the extent to which the needs of the progressed learners will be met in some selected Bloemfontein Secondary Schools. The benefit of the progressed learners is that their study has been divided into two years. The first year they are allowed to study half of the subjects. Another advantage it gives Department of Basic Education a good impression about the high pass rate. The parents also as the stakeholders are also benefiting from the development it provides Universities with students and working industries with employees.
1.4 Research questions
1. How can progressed learners be supported?
2. What are the teachers feeling about the progressed learners?
3. How does the grade retention affect learners?
1.5 Significant to the study
Some secondary schools in Bloemfontein are focusing on making the Free State province number one when it comes to matric results, but the learners suffers the most as the combination the subjects they are doing is not making sense such as, Economics, Business studies, Maths Literacy, Afrikaans, Sotho, English, Life Orientation. Afrikaans replaces Accounting. Teachers selected learner’s irrelevant subjects that cannot contribute to their career path. Another gap in the policy the conditions of employment in some cases are not conducive to learning especially in public schools, the ratio of teachers to learners is extreme (Magopeni and Tshiwula, 2010). The government should employ more teachers and incentive them well.
The Department of Basic Education should also establish a policy whereby the poor performance learners will account for their poor results. This starting from grade 10 and grade 11. It takes two to tango. The learner should be given a task of going through the entire studies to check what went wrong, and report of how will the studies be improved.
1.6 Definition of key terms
1. Gatekeeping is a programme designed to help learners which are not academically inclined to write a metric on two years.
2. Progression means the advancement of learner from one grade to the next, excluding grade R, even though the learner met the promotion requirement.
3. Promotion is when a learner has attained the minimum requirements stipulated for the grade by the education authority.
4. Grade retention is when a learner remaining in a grade; instead, of moving on with his or her peers.
5. Matric is defined as the main school leaving certificate in South Africa.
6. Low quintile schools are the schools serving learners from low socio-economic homes.
1.7 Delimitation of the study
This study will be focusing on how to improve the progressed learners performance in two districts in the Free State province. Only the schools that seemed to have accumulated higher number in the progressed learners.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
The debate about gatekeeping on the newspaper article seemed very interesting. Govender, P (2018) ‘A two-year matric’ keeps pass rate high’ Sunday Times 07 January P.5. The intervention of gatekeeping mechanism proved that the 2017 South African national matric pass rate would have fallen 11.1% if almost 70 000 progressed learners had written their full final exams. Surprisingly, the literature on progressed learners does not include any reference to the statement. A positive respond on the topic was witnessed from Professor Felix Mainge, a professor in educational leadership and policy studies at University of Witwatersrand, said that allowing the progressed learners to write over two years had “to large extent been used as agate-keeping kind of mechanism.” In addition to the statement Prof. Maringe was quoted, giving learners the chance to write exams over two years was “an excellent idea” because not all learners had the capacity to handle and pass exams in one go. In order for learners to be permitted to write over two years a school principal had to consult with parents first.
Another expect on the research was asked about gatekeeping and this was the Professor Sarah Gravett, dean of education faculity at the University of Johannesburg had to say “Ultimately it’s about giving the progressed learners the opportunity to succeed, taking into consideration that of the learners come from difficult socioeconomic circumstances. They were not necessarily in the best schools with best teachers. If one needs to give support and opportunity for learners to succeed.” The third, official Basil Manuel, executive director of National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa added that the chances of the progressed learners of passing in one sitting were impossible. The learners can still do the multiple exam opportunity and gatekeeping is not such a bad idea as the is nothing in the system to support the progressed learners. Gate-keeping is the method that will ensure that the learners are not completely crushed by having failed badly.
The beginning of new era after the abolishment of apartheid in 1994 played the significant role in desegreting the school system. The Black learners felt the heat
of being neglected under the regime of apartheid, but are now free to attend the former whites-only schools which resulted in suburban mixed-ethnicity schools. Even though there is opportunity for Black learners to attend model C Schools, most of the Black learners are a still attending township and rural schools. The standard of education is not the best due to the deprived socio-economic contexts (Maree, 2012). The township schools are overcrowded and poorly resourced (Magopeni and Tshiwula, 2012), have poor facilities (Kriek and Grayson, 2009), and have little access to services such as career counselling and remedial education (Ndimande, 2012). Learners from township account 80% of the total South African enrolment in the elementary and secondary education, and they are focus to the educational progress (Grobler, Lacante and Lens, 2014). Compulsory schooling in South Africa ends in grade 9.
An answer to grade retention is discussed under the heading dropout.
There is a huge dropout rates in secondary schools and tertiary educational levels experienced in South Africa (Grobler, Knight, Lens and Lacante, 2014). “In 2011, only 44% of Black learners between the aged of 23 and 24 had completed secondary school in South Africa” (Taylor, Van der Berg, Reddy and Janse van Rensburg, 2015). “Approximately 60% of the learners that enter the schooling system complete grade 12 and 40% of the learners are dropout of the system after repeated failure” (Department of Basic Education Republic of South Africa, 2017a). It is too bad to see learners dropping out, and does not serve anybody good, because most adolescents find themselves idle once they dropped out of the school (Branson, Hofmeyr and Lam, 2014). Recent study conducted by Van der Berg (2015) showed that prospects are lifeless for learners who do not have good solid foundation by grade 4. It is imperative that the learner’s performance be improved at this phase. The higher the grade advances, dropout rates increase and promotion rates decrease. In contrast to lower grade both dropout and repetition rates are much higher in grade 10, grade 11 and 12. This grades repetition lead South African government to come up with implementation of progression law.
2.3 Progression Law
. Both promotion and progression refer to the movement of learner to higher grade. Promotion is applicable when the learner has met the minimum pass requirements stipulated in for the grade by the authority. In case of progression the learner does not need to meet these minimum requirements. The adoption of progression law took place in 1998 when the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was still called the Department of Education (DoE). The implementation of progression law legislate social promotion until grade 9 and again from grades 10 to 12. History tells that there has been compliance with the progression law in the General Education and Training (GET) for a number of years. The law was passed onto the Further Education and Training (FET) phase after the circular issued by Minister of Basic Education (DBE, 2012). According to DoE (2007b), learners who achieved certain rather stringent requirements in grade 9 would be awarded a GET certificate and then exit formal schooling or enter the FET phase. High school would offer academic streams grade 10 to 12 for FET (DBE, 2011; DoE, 2004), TVET (Technical and Vocational Colleges) would offer a more practical stream (DoE, 200a). Learners who will be going to FET phase are the condoned, promoted, had achieved qualification equivalent to GET certificate. The policy was disregarded by many schools which lead to progression (Lekalakala, 2013), or upward manipulation of grade 9 marks to mask progression as promotion or condoned (Padayachee, 2014), learners from grade 9 to 10 has followed. The shortcoming was the large number of learners currently enrolled in the academic stream of FET phase without having been promoted to this through their own achievement. It is understood that the first cohorts of progressed learners reached grade 12 in 2014.
2.4 The social promotion or progression of learner’s debate
An answer to teachers’ point of view is covered under progression debate.
Proponents of social promotion cite studies show that the academic costs and few if any long-term benefits. Holmes and Matthews (1984) conclude their meta-analysis of the repetition of elementary and junior high learners by stating that: “Those who continue to retain learners at grade level do so in spite of cumulative research evidence showing the potential for negative effects consistently outweighs positive outcomes” (p.17). It becomes clear that these negative effects increased possible dropping out of school before graduation (Jimerson, 2001) and behavioural problems, including truancy (Jimerson, Carlson, Rotert, Egeland, and Sroufe, 1997). The economic costs of repetition are also high (Alexander et al., 2003). Government will not only the pinch of having large number of learners in the system, the lower earning-potential such as learners will have one drop out of, rather than graduate from school. Smith and Shepard (1987) state that repetition and ability grouping “help advantaged groups, create further barriers for the disadvantaged, and promote segregation and stratification” (p.133). The situation was possibly aggravated by arbitrary nature of promotion, progression, repetition decisions particularly in developing countries (Brophy, 2006). It is true that proponents admit the learners will show an initial improvement on the short-term, but point out that this benefit disappears in the long-term (Manacorda, 2012).
It is assumed that opponents of social promotion may want to argue the promotion on merit, as defined by school curricular, serves all children’s interests by channelling learners into most suitable for their ability. Alexander et al. (2003) refute this argument by stating that ability is not static and school assessment not infallible, and so potential to succeed cannot necessarily be determined by performance in school assessments at a particular time. The main opponents to social promotion are seen as teachers. Their concerns are sometimes belittled by the short-term benefits of repetition, rather than by rigorous research of both short-term and long-term of repetition (Brophy, 2006; Haidary, 2013).
Summary of problems teachers associate with progression are found in the frequently quoted statement by the American Federation of Teachers (1997, p.5):
Progression is an insidious practice that hides school failure and creates problems for everybody, for kids, who deluded into thinking they have learned the skills to be successful or get the message that achievement doesn’t count; for teachers who must face learners who know that teachers wield no credible authority to demand hard work; for the business community and colleges that must spend millions of dollars on remediation; and for society that must deal with a growing proportion of uneducated citizens, unprepared to contribute productively to the economic and civic life of the nation.
The teachers concern is that if learners know they will be automatically progressed they will not be motivated to work hard due to the loss of threat effect of grade repetition. The views of proponents of social promotion differ with the efficacy loss of threat effect of grade repletion in improving learner performance since they consider the assumptions that are based upon to be faulty. Allegations about learners who fail are underachievers who do not apply themselves, rather than low achievers who already work hard, and the threat of failure is motivating, rather than losing hope (Brophy, 2006). The findings of Belot and Vandenberghe (2014) on French-speaking Belgian grade 10 with regard to the threat effect of repetition proved that learners who knew that they will be progressed showed no difference in performance other than those who had the possibility of failing their grade.
2.5 Support system on progression of learners
Answer to supporting the progressed learners.
It is not known if findings on are accommodated to South African (SA) learners. Studies on repetition have been conducted most of them in the developed countries (Brophy, 2006) and their findings may not be applicable to SA context. Taking example whereby the social and psychological consequences of repetition are likely to be reduced in situations where large portion of a class repeats the grade relative to where the repeating learners is more likely to be isolated and marginalised due to the majority of his or her peers having been promoted. A situation where a learner is likely to drop out of school because of having history is reduced in the contexts of poverty if the school offers shelter and food which would not be available. To be precise issues as these add to the fact that black schools in South Africa exhibit high enrolment and retention rates despite having high repletion rates (Branson et al., 2014; Lam, Ardington, and Leibbrandt, 2011). The presentation of the 2014 matric results Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga listed those countries which practice social promotion (Motshekga, 2015). Countries such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Korea, and United Kingdom which are all developed who have strong remediation systems in place and who perform very well in the international comparative test. Classroom conditions of the developed countries outsmart those of low quintile SA schools. Minister of Basic Education Motshekga confirmed that South African’s education system lacks necessary remediation required for social promotion to be successful when she pointed out that “we need to strengthen our support for progressed learners” (Motshekga, 2015, p.4). The typical low quintile SA schools it is found that undue emphasis on grade 12 has the effect of reducing the occurrence of remediation in lower grades and is detrimental to normal school functioning (Clark and Linder, 2006). Problems encountered in low SA quintile schools are much similar to the United States, but they have experienced a popular move away from social promotion in recent years (National Science Teachers Association, 2003), but still exhibits low rates of repetition in general, although repetition rates of minority groups in certain areas are high (Brophy, 2006).
Grade repetition for various countries and regions throughout the world, with 22% per year, recorded for sub-Saharan African countries, being highest are listed by Brophy (2006). Although, Branson et al. (2014), report that as many as 80% of 2008 grade 10 learners in the lowest quintile South Africa had not reached grade 12 by 2010. Information on their data show dramatic increases in repetition and dropout rates between grades 10 and 11, and grades 11 and 12. There is no information on whether the repetition was legitimated but rather referred as gatekeeping (DBE, 2012). Gatekeeping in this context means preventing learners from being promoted to grade 12 despite having met the promotion requirements, albeit poorly, if they are likely to fail the final examination, and so lower the pass rates of the school in the national grade 12 examination. This method was commonly practice (Chisholm and Wildeman, 2013) before the implementation of progression law in the FET phase since there is considerable emotional, financial and political pressure to ensure that pass rates are competitive. Under circumstances where educational pathways alternative to grade 12 are not present, gatekeeping, as well as repeated failure to meet the promotion requirements, can result in learners dropping out from the education system with low skills, and low levels of employability.
2.6 Extent of learner progression
It is found that learners who sat amongst the candidates who sat the grade 12 examination in the Free State varies greatly between schools with displaying to no evidence of progression and others displaying moderate to high levels of progression. Motheo District had 35% of the schools had progressed learners in 2014 and 28% had more than the average number. In some cases this is due to noncompliance with the progression law in 2013. A number of progressed leaners increases with a decrease in quintile. The high quintile schools draw learners from higher socioeconomic homes. Learners tend to have enjoyed better educational support at homes throughout their lives and therefore should be expected to be less likely to have educational backlogs common in poorer communities (Tmaeus, Simelane, and Letswalo, 2013). Studies found out that well established higher quintile schools employ teachers with better content knowledge and pedagogical skill, and perform administrative functions more effectively, than do lower quintile schools (Shalem and Hoadley, 2009; Stott, 2013). The great differences in the need to progress learners exist between schools which serve the SA middle class and those which serve the poorer communities.
Extent of leaner progression is displayed on o figures below.
Figure 1: Extent of learner progression to grade 12 in 2014 in the Motheo district per school.
Quintile No. Of learners No. Of progressed learners % progressed learners
1 & 2 2967 822 27.7
3 1963 347 17.7
5 1033 80 7.7
5 2605 109 4.7
Table 1: Number and percentage of progressed learners in Motheo district per quintile.
3.1 Research Design
The researcher will be using quantitative research.
3.2 The Research Instruments
Voice recording instrument and internet survey.
3.3 Pilot Testing
Questionnaire will be given the 6 of the secondary schools grade 12 mathematics teachers in Motheo district with full instructions.
3.4 The population
In this study, the population will be consist of all secondary schools who attained the pass below 60% in Bachelor Certificate. Free State target is 60% and 40% Diploma Certificate in grade 12. This schools will be provided with questionnaire that will that be required to circle their answers. The population will include principals and grade 12 teachers.
3.5 The sample
Simple Random Sampling will be used to survey the teachers’ perception about the progressed learners.
3.6 The sampling Techniques
The researcher will use the systematic sampling techniques to do the interview. In population of about 30 teachers and will use simple size of 10. The starting point will be the second teacher and will take ever third teacher, it will go this way 2;5;8;11;14;17;20;23;26;30.
3.7 Data collection procedures
Data will be collected from the DBE.
3.8 Data analysis Techniques
Quantitative which involves critical analysis and interpretation of figures and numbers, and attempt to find the rationale behind the emergence of main finding.
3.9. Ethical Considerations
Researcher will request permission from the Department of Education to conduct research in the sampled school within the district of Motheo.
10. Limitations of the study
The researcher will consider the time limit and budget constraints.
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