Original Research-Special Collection: Teacher education for the primary school and the perennial problem of practice

Moving beyond league table standings: How measures of opportunity to learn can inform educational quality and policy directives?

Surette van Staden, Celeste Combrinck, Karen Roux, Mishack Tshele, Nelladee M. Palane
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a712 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.712 | © 2019 Surette van Staden, Celeste Combrinck, Karen Roux, Mishack Tshele, Nelladee M. Palane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2018 | Published: 10 September 2019

About the author(s)

Surette van Staden, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Celeste Combrinck, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Karen Roux, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Mishack Tshele, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Nelladee M. Palane, Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South Africa’s participation across a number of international large-scale assessment programmes provides continued evidence of poor student achievement across grades and phases. Despite discouraging achievement results, evidence of slow progress begins to emerge, yet systemic inequalities persist.

Aim: This article aims to unpack the possible value of large-scale assessment data in measuring equal educational opportunity as conceptualised by the opportunity to learn (OTL).

Setting: While overall scores on international large-scale assessment in countries like South Africa are often driven by aptitude, student motivation and social class, OTL, as described in this article, should provide a more accurate reflection of the nature of performance and the kinds of opportunities afforded to students across an unequal sector to learn.

Methods: A multiple linear regression was conducted using the South African PIRLS 2016 teacher and student questionnaire data and the PIRLS Literacy Grade 4 overall reading literacy performance score as the dependent variable.

Results: While socio economic status makes a substantial contribution in the current model, the only predictor that was significant is the scale based on student reports on lessons about reading.

Conclusion: Through the use of multiple regression analysis, this article concludes that a more effective use of large-scale assessment data from an OTL perspective, specifically in developing contexts, is still problematic using teacher and student questionnaire data. Issues of social desirability and overly positive reporting make any claims about the teachers’ role in providing opportunities to learn and exposure to the curriculum in the classroom difficult to gauge.


Keywords

reading literacy; opportunity to learn; PIRLS Literacy 2016; large-scale assessments; classroom practice.

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