Improving early grade reading in South Africa: 3ie grantee final report

Author(s): Taylor, Stephen; Cilliers, Jacobus; Prinsloo, Cas; Fleisch, Brahm; Reddy, Vijay

Organisation(s): International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

Date: 2019

Pages: 108 p.


Early grade reading results from international assessments of reading and literacy, show that the majority of children in grades four, five and six in South Africa have not yet learned to read with comprehension. By comparing the effectiveness of centralised teacher training, specialist on-site instructional coaching and parental involvement in literacy, the study addresses serious efforts in South Africa on how policy can support attainment of reading skills in grades one and two of the Foundation Phase in the least resourced schools. Main findings: At the end of two years, the coaching intervention had larger and statistically significant effects on more dimensions of home language reading ability than the training intervention. Learners whose teachers received on-site coaching were approximately 40 per cent of a year of learning ahead of the students in the schools that received no intervention. While on-site coaching had a positive effect on English literacy, the training intervention had significant positive effects on three dimensions of reading ability: recognition of sounds, non-words and paragraph reading. The third intervention to promote parental involvement had only small and statistically insignificant effects driven by low attendance in the support meetings. None of the studied interventions had a negative effect on home language reading acquisition or on the learning of other subjects.

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