FOR WRITTEN REPLY
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 02/09/2011
(INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 27/2011)
Dr W G James (DA) to ask the Minister of Basic Education:
(1) (a) What were the most important findings of the recent Annual National Assessment (ANA) on (i) numeracy and (ii) literacy skills and (b) how can these skills be improved in each case;
(2) whether, with reference to the impact that teachers have on these results, it will be required of teachers to take supplementary (a) maths training and (b) literacy teaching skills to ensure better results; if not, why not; if so, what is the position in this regard;
(3) whether (a) teachers and (b) principals will be held accountable if their students fail to master literacy and numeracy; if not, why not; if so, how? NW2815E
1 (a) (i) (ii)
Most Important Findings of the Recent Annual National Assessment (ANA)
OVERALL LEARNER PERFORMANCE
Overall, learner performance in the schools as reflected in the ANA 2011 tests was low with average scores in most grades and subjects around 30% and 20%.
TRENDS IN PERFORMANCE
Grade 1 and 2 learners performed reasonably well, with average performance higher than 50% in many instances. However, from Grade 3 going higher to Grade 6 performance dips noticeably and drops alarmingly from Grade 4.
QUALITY OF LEARNER PERFORMANCE
Detailed analysis of samples of responses that learners provided in the tests show the following:-
Competency in literacy/language basic skills
i) ‘Difficult-to-read’ hand writing of children, even beyond the Foundation Phase.
ii) General lack in basic literacy skills including basic grammar, correct spelling of frequently used words, proper use of language forms (e.g. correct use of prepositions, plural forms, tense, words that mean opposites of given words, etc.). This could also be a manifestation of serious lack of vocabulary apparently arising out of inadequate or infrequent practice in the important skill of “reading”.
iii) Low or poor comprehension skills, invariably leading to children attempting only simple questions that require them to extract information directly from given text or give short one-word answers but are not able to respond to questions that demand complex skills of inferential analytic reading.
iv) Inability to (creatively) write own text from given prompts (e.g. given a picture and asked to write what one thinks about what one sees in the picture) or transform a given text into another form that requires basic comprehension.
Competency in numeracy/mathematics basic skills
i) Inability to handle basic numeracy operations, particularly operations of subtraction, multiplication and division that involve whole numbers.
ii) Seriously limited or distorted conceptions of fractions, e.g. comparing fractions according to size and arranging them from the smallest to the biggest or vice versa. The misconceptions become more pronounced when learners have to operate mixed numbers, i.e. where there are whole numbers and fractions in the same operation, such as in subtracting “three-and-one-quarter” from “five-and-one-eighth”.
iii) Inability to translate problems that are given in words and write them in ways that enable them to solve the problem using mathematical techniques. For example, inability to calculate the amount of change a shopper receives from a specified amount tendered after paying for a number of items whose individual prices are given.
Following the release of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) results in June 2011, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was instructed to develop a National Integrated Strategy to improve literacy and numeracy achievement in schools. While the strategy is for deployment across the board, our primary interest is the poor performing schools that form part of our single High Risk High Priority Selection according to the National Integrated Strategy:
(i) Learners who will be in grades 3, 6 and 9 in 2013
(ii) Poorest performing schools, in
(iii) Quintiles 1, 2 and 3, in the
(iv) Poorest performing districts, that may also contain
(v) Multigrade schools.
(2) The Department of Basic Education in collaboration with all stakeholders has developed a comprehensive teacher development plan which prioritises literacy and maths development programmes for teachers with an emphasis on underperforming schools. This involves dedicated provincial planning, budgeting and delivery of programmes and interventions in these areas, Higher Education Institutions and NGO involvement as well provision of literacy and numeracy workbooks for each learner and teacher manuals to support teachers in the use of the workbooks.
a) Yes. All teachers are accountable to the principal for the performance of their learners in the various subjects, including literacy and numeracy.
The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) is currently used to evaluate the performance of educators. The IQMS was agreed to in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) as Collective Agreement No. 8 of 2003. The performance standards, amongst others, on which educators are evaluated, are as follows:
i) Knowledge of curriculum and learning programmes;
ii) Lesson planning, preparation and presentation, and
iii) Learner assessment
Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) provide the necessary support and development of teachers as identified in their evaluation outcomes. PEDs are also authorised to invoke disciplinary measures against teachers who are consistently underperforming in terms of the IQMS, subject to compliance with the process as contained in Section 2 (Schedule 1) of the Employment of Educators Act, 76 of 1998.
There is a process that is currently underway to simplify and streamline the IQMS. The proposed instrument on the Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) will replace the existing IQMS. The TPA, once agreed to in the ELRC, will, amongst others, strengthen the accountability levels of teachers.
b) Principals are currently accountable to their immediate supervisor (i.e. Circuit Manager) for the performance of the learners in all subjects in their schools.
The Circuit Manager is responsible for the evaluation of the principal in terms of the IQMS, and provides support and development as necessary. PEDs are authorised to invoke disciplinary measures against principals who are consistently underperforming in terms of the IQMS, subject to compliance with the process as contained in Section 2 (Schedule 1) of the Employment of Educators Act, 76 of 1998.
There is a process currently underway to finalise a Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) for principals and deputy principals. The PMDS once agreed to, in the ELRC, will ensure that the principal will be required to sign a performance agreement with clear deliverables and targets to be achieved by the school. This will include targets for learner achievement in literacy and numeracy. They will also be directly accountable for the appraisal of teachers in the school.