Mrs Karen Roux, a researcher at the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA), was invited to speak at the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) annual reading conference on the 6th of March. The reading conference was held at the School of Achievement in Germiston. Karen’s presentation focused on using results from international large scale assessments and how these could be used to inform teacher practice. It provides evidence of Grade 4 reading levels across 11 languages in South Africa as measured by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) Literacy 2016. The examination of benchmark results specifically provides evidence for possible ways these results can be used to improve reading at classroom level. The main aim of the discussion involved how can teachers’ practice benefit from evidence provided by international comparative studies.
The PIRLS Literacy 2016 results indicated that 8 out of 10 Grade 4 learners cannot read at the appropriate level which paints a grim picture of primary school reading literacy in South Africa. PIRLS Literacy 2016 was the third cycle of testing in South Africa showing some improvement across the different cycles. Based on the results from PIRLS Literacy 2016 and other national assessments, many government and non-government organisations have invested in reading initiatives at school and classroom level to assist teachers, and ultimately learners to become better readers. Some of these initiatives include the Read to Learn campaign and the Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS).