Black pupils do better in ‘Model C’

2013-09-11 00:00

BLACK children who attend former Model C schools perform better than those in township schools. This is according to the National School Effectiveness Study (NSES) that was published recently. This study was commissioned by JET Education Services, an independent non-governmental organisation that aims to improve the quality of education.

“African language students in historically white schools enjoy considerable performance advantage over those in historically black schools … especially in numeracy,” the study found.

Dr Nick Taylor, head of National Education Evaluation, and one of the editors of the report, said, although achievement is strongly linked with the home’s socioeconomic status, “much of this connection has to do with the effectiveness of schools in [the area in] which their homes are located”.

NSES followed a group of children for three years, from Grade 3 in 2007 and ending with Grade 5. About 16 000 children participated in each year’s data gathering, with 8 383 children tracked over the three years in all provinces except Gauteng.

Some of the problems that are found in the poor communities include children who go to school with empty stomachs, poor punctuality, shortages of books and classrooms, and home conditions not conducive to parental engagement.

The report also found that more than half of the pupils in the NSES sample were taught by teachers who could answer only two of the five mathematic questions correctly.

“For teachers who scored anything less than five, the mean achievement of the [pupils] was very similar. But those who were taught by teachers who could answer all five questions correctly performed noticeably better,” Taylor said.

On average, only 24% of topics were covered in both Grade 4 and 5, the report stated. “More advanced topics, including those which constitute the building blocks for deeper, conceptual understanding of the subject, were covered by few teachers.”

How the school is managed also has an effect on how pupils perform at schools.

Teachers who spent more time on the curriculum and content knowledge aspects, also had their pupils perform better.

The report concluded that attendance and punctuality by principals and teachers, curriculum planning, frequency and use of assessment for teaching, teaching knowledge, and curriculum coverage are strongly linked to pupils’ test scores.

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