Competency Based Assessment (CBA) Definitive Guide

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  • Date Modified18-06-2022
  • Date Published2022-06-18

Competency Based Assessment (CBA) is a systematic process of gathering a learner's knowledge, skills and attitudes. Competency Based Assessment (CBC) focuses on assessment rather than examination.

In school, teachers impart knowledge upon students, this is the most basic purpose of any school. However, this does not carry the true essence of education. A school's main objective also include:

  • All round personal development: a school develops the whole personality of the child: physically, intellectually, morally, socially even spiritually, through its curricular and co-curricular activities carried out in school through craft work, games, sports, society, artistic and other activities.
  • Conservation and Perpetuation of Social Life: a school maintains the continuity of social life by handing down traditions, experiences, values and customs of the society, from one generation to the other.
  • Cultivation of Higher Value of Life: School education must develop in the children a sense of true appreciation of truth, goodness and beauty together with social, economic and demo¬≠cratic ideals.


All of the above constitute a true educational background of any learner. All of these needs to be imparted continuously in steps over several years. With this comes the need to define a system that carefully documents all that a learner has acquired.
This is also where the 8-4-4 education system failed, this is because it was purely exam-oriented.

Difference between Assessment and Examination
Examination such as Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KSCE) are tests done by learners at the end of the primary and secondary learning cycle. This is the 8-4-4 education cycle way. This exams were heavily theoretical. A student is considered fit for the next education cycle if they only master content acquired in school nothing else counted. This tests were also taken for certification purposes as proof of completing a learning cycle.

However assessment is a systematic process of gathering information from multiple sources concerning a student, to determine when to move on to the next concept or enhance understanding of concepts when facilitating learning. This process documents what the learner knows and can do before they learn, as they learn and as they transit from one level to another based on certain criterias.
Assessment uses a wide variety of tools, teachers, parents and learners themselves to track progress of the learner through real time feedback mechanism.

Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and Competency Based Assessment
CBC is simply the education structure that guides how teaching is to be conducted.
CBA is the process of determining the capability of a learner to apply a set of related knowledge, skills, values and attitude required to successfully perform a task. The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) carries out assessment based on CBC design.

Type of assessment in CBA

  • Formative Assessment
  • Summative Assessment

Formative Assessment
A learner's progress in the education process will be continuous during their learning process as opposed to examination which are only carried out at the end of a learning level. They consist of two types:

  1. Classromm Assessment: Is a continuous assessment carried out at the entire basic level of education. This is from Early Year Education(EYE) which is PP1, PP2, middle school and senior school. Teachers develop these assessment tools.
  2. School-based Assessment: Starts at Grade 4 to Grade 12. Assessment is developed by KNEC, teachers will download tools then administer them to learners.

This is the Monitoring Learner Progress.

Summative Assessment(National Assessment)
These assessment shall be carried out at Grade 6, Grade 9 and Grade 12. The purpose of these assessment is to inform the policy and education stakeholders on level specific intervention for quality education of learners.

How Assessment will be done at CBC Grade Level
Early Year Education (EYE) - PP1, PP2, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3
At PP1 and PP2, learners are assessed internally by the school then transition to the Lower Primary Grade 1, Grade 2.
Learners will not have a national assessment.

At Grade 3, learners will take a school-based assessment but will not be used for ranking or placement after which they all proceed to the Upper Primary.

Upper Primary - Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6
Learners take summative assessment at each Upper Grade Level: Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6 to track learning progress ahead of the National Assessment.
The school-based assessment will account for 60% of a learner's total score.

At end of Grade 6, a summative assessment is administered will account 40% of the learner's total score. This will mark the end of primary cycle.

Performance of the learners at this level and their interest will be used to place them in junior secondary school.

Junior Secondary School - Grade 7, Grade 8 and Grade 9
At Grade 9, learners will again be formatively assessed together with a summative assessment at the end of junior secondary school. Scores and preferences will be used for placement in senior secondary school which will determine a learner's preferred career pathway.

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