The Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) has been hosting a series of seminars to explore the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) results. The last cycle of PIRLS included over 50 countries to asses Grade 4 learners’ reading comprehension. PIRLS also provides participating countries with valuable trends where countries can compare their results from previous PIRLS studies.
Mrs Karen Roux presented a seminar entitled ‘PIRLS Literacy 2016: Exploring the Translations of Released Passages’. This presentation is part of her PhD studies looking at the validity of PIRLS in South Africa. The presentation focused on one part of her studies, namely whether there are measurement invariance between the English, Afrikaans and isiZulu learner results. In other words, whether there were any potential bias items. Karen used Rasch Measurement Theory to conduct her analysis.
She has looked at two PIRLS Literacy released passages, The Pearl and African Rhinos and Oxpecker Birds. It was found that a few items did indicate Differential Item Functioning (DIF) between the three language groups. During the seminar, Karen and those attending, had discussions about these items’ DIF and the difficulties of teaching language, and specifically reading skills, to large classes and in linguistic diverse classes.
The seminar was attended by staff from other departments at the University of Pretoria as well as representatives from other institutions, including Umalusi, National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the University of Johannesburg.