Review Article

An analysis of the results of literacy assessments conducted in South African primary schools

Radhamoney Govender, Anna J. Hugo
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a745 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.745 | © 2020 Radhamoney Govender, Anna J. Hugo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2019 | Published: 22 July 2020

About the author(s)

Radhamoney Govender, Department of Language Education, Arts and Culture, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa
Anna J. Hugo, Department of Language Education, Arts and Culture, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South African primary school learners have participated in several national and international literacy (reading and writing) studies that measure learners’ achievement in different grades and at different intervals. Numerous scholars have analysed the results of these assessments. We extended their analyses by investigating the grade coverage and the aspects of literacy that were included in these assessments, as well as whether the learners’ home language impacts their results.

Aim: The authors aim to determine how reliable the results of these assessments are in improving and informing policies relating to literacy teaching in primary schools and to provide recommendations to improve the administration of literacy assessments.

Method: Literature on various national and international literacy studies that were conducted in South African primary schools from 2000 to 2016 was identified and analysed according to grade, province, languages in which the assessments were conducted, aspects of literacy that were included in the assessments and the accuracy of the results.

Results: The analysis provides evidence that suggests that most literacy assessments target learners in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4–6) and are not available in all 11 South African official languages. Presently, there are no large-scale literacy assessments for Foundation Phase (Grades 1–3) learners. Moreover, the results of these assessments do not provide us with reliable information about literacy levels in the country because there are vast discrepancies in assessment scores.

Conclusion: This article highlights the importance of obtaining reliable information in determining literacy levels in the country and in informing decisions regarding literacy-related policies.


Keywords

literacy; reading; writing; systemic evaluation; Annual National Assessments; Early Grade Reading Assessment; Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality; Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies

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