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Stellenbosch Working Papers

Working Papers

COVID-19 and inequality in reading outcomes in South Africa: PIRLS 2016 and 2021

In this Covid-Generation working paper, Bianca Böhmer and Gabrielle Wills contribute new evidence on pandemic effects on reading scores and inequalities in reading in South Africa through an in-depth analysis of data from the 2016 and 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) – a Grade 4 reading comprehension assessment.

December 23, 2023 By: Bianca Böhmer and Gabrielle Wills PDF

What rich new education data can tell us

This report leverages data mainly derived from the South African School Administration Management System (SA-SAMS), including a unique longitudinal version of the Data Driven Districts (DDD) data for three provinces as well as the Learner Unit Record Information Tracking System (Lurits) data and National Senior Certificate (matric) examination data to analyse the dynamics of the South African education system in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provides a detailed analysis of learner flows, assessment strategies, and teacher dynamics, offering valuable insights for policymakers and educational stakeholders and illustrating how such data can be used in education policy and planning.

December 22, 2023 By: Servaas van der Berg, Chris van Wyk, Martin Gustafsson, Herman Meyer, Abigail Chari, Chloé van Biljon, Adaiah Lilenstein, Rebecca Selkirk & Jessica McCallum PDF

The Teacher Demographic Dividend (TDD) project

The Teacher Demographic Dividend (TDD) project looks at the challenge of replacing older teachers, but it also offers the opportunity to renew the teaching workforce. The project seeks to understand these challenges and possible windows of opportunity created by this unprecedented demographic change.

July 26, 2023 By: RESEP Team PDF

The role of assessment in Foundation Phase improvement: The Annual National Assessments and beyond

Measuring learning outcomes (what learners know and can do) has been a contested terrain for many education systems and researchers, despite universal acknowledgement that assessment plays an important role in curriculum implementation (UNESCO 2013; Darling-Hammond & Wentworth 2010; Department of Education [DoE] 1995). Venkat and Sapire (this volume) refer to the ‘essential circuits’ of education and the
link between the curriculum, teaching practice, and assessment. Our focus is strictly on the Foundation Phase (FP), and where we refer to a specific subject, mathematics is our first concern. This chapter, therefore, only makes passing reference to the major external assessment, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) or matric examination.

July 11, 2023 By: Carol Nuga Deliwe and Servaas van der Berg PDF

Teacher demographic dividend provincial spotlight dialogue

On 25 May 2023, the Teacher Demographic Dividend (TDD) project hosted its first Provincial Spotlight Dialogue at The Blades, Pretoria. The dialogue was organised with the aim of receiving feedback on the new research findings in TDD’s national and provincial reports, as well as on a proposed national survey investigating new teacher placement and retention. The dialogue was attended by officials from the Provincial Education Departments (PEDs), Department of Basic Education (DBE), Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and National and Provincial Treasuries.

June 2, 2023 By: RESEP Team PDF

COVID-19 and the South African curriculum policy response

In this note by Ursula Hoadley, she tracks curriculum and assessment policy changes over three years (2020 to 2023) in South Africa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures. Some changes were made to the national CAPS curriculum documents in the form of trimming content (2020), identifying ‘fundamental’ knowledge (2020), and reviewing subject content (2022).

May 16, 2023 By: Ursula Hoadley PDF

Educational issues and the impact of COVID-19: what education data reveal

COVID-19 caused disruptions to schooling on an unprecedented scale. Emerging evidence indicate sthat these disruptions impacted schooling in South Africa in many ways, from shortened curricula to significant learning losses occurring over the two years of the pandemic (Hoadley, 2020; Ardington,
Wills and Kotze, 2021; Van der Berg et al., 2022). This report constitutes the first attempt at investigating how these outcomes affected broader system performance in terms of key outcomes such as learner flows through the system, matric results, and performance in school-based assessments (SBAs). The report also sheds light on some important other education issues.

February 2, 2023 By: Servaas van der Berg, Chris van Wyk, Rebecca Selkirk, Herman Meyer, Heleen Hofmeyr, Eldridge Moses and Joel Gondwe PDF

COVID-19 disruptions and learning in South Africa: two years of evidence

The evidence discussed in this brief confirms that learning losses in South Africa have been large. Covid-19 has disrupted South African education in significant ways, with enduring impacts for the system (including altered enrolment patterns) and for children’s development.

November 3, 2022 By: Gabrielle Wills & Servaas van der Berg PDF

RESEP researchers launch Roots & Shoots study

RESEP researchers Heleen Hofmeyr and Nic Spaull recently launched the Roots & Shoots study, a longitudinal research study funded by the Mr Price Foundation that aims to track learners from when they first enter school until the end of the Foundation Phase.

October 13, 2022 By: Heleen Hofmeyr PDF

Breaking into spring with the 2022 Quantitative Education Research Conference: An overview

RESEP was again privileged to host its annual QER conference at STIAS from 31 August to 1 September 2022. There is much value in bringing together academics, government, NGOs and funders involved in education improvement in South Africa. Two days of new research, engaging panels and critical questioning reminded us of how much work there is to be done, while also revealing the advancement in collaboration that has been made across research and government work.

September 12, 2022 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

What lies behind South Africa’s improvements in PIRLS? An Oaxaca-Blinder analysis of the 2011 and 2016 data

Three international testing programmes, including PIRLS, point to educational quality improvements in South Africa during the period 2002 to 2019. The gains were substantial, relative to the steepness of improvements seen in other countries. What lay behind these trends? National education quality trends are not easy to explain, and this is seldom attempted in a systematic manner.

July 15, 2022 By: Martin Gustafsson& Stephen Taylor  PDF