Research and Evaluation Reports

Evaluation Report: Impact of a Limpopo educator training programme on learner performance in Mathematics and English

This evaluation of the impact of an Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) programme in Language Education for English teachers and a BEd programme for FET Mathematics teachers in Limpopo, was funded by the Zenex Foundation and conducted by Benita van Wyk in 2008.

Among the issues addressed in the evaluation are whether the beneficiary teachers gained the appropriate skills and values to enhance their teaching capacity, whether learner results improved as a result of having better qualified teachers in the classroom, and to assess whether this model of teacher development is more effective than other methods of teacher development.

Summary of Evaluation Report of Advanced Certificate in Education: Educator Training Programme

Duration of Project: 2006 - 2008

Geographical base for project: Limpopo

Evaluation conducted by: Benita Van Wyk

Introduction

The project was undertaken in 19 Limpopo schools. It provided 20 Further Education and Training (FET) Mathematics teachers with a three-year BEd degree and 20 English teachers in the same schools with an Advanced Certificate: Education (ACE) in Language Education.

The project was based on the premise that in order for previously disadvantaged learners to improve their performance in Mathematics, it is essential that they are exposed to quality teaching in both English and Mathematics. The project therefore sought to address teacher skills and knowledge in both these learning areas with the ultimate intention of improving learner performance in Mathematics and English.

Key Findings

The findings of this report were based on data collected throughout the implementation of the project which included a baseline test, classroom observations, questionnaires and assessment of academic marks of the teachers.

Two small groups were used to compare the academic performance of teachers in the project schools. Both the control groups were undertaking the ACE course but did not have the benefit of additional support from the NGO service provider.The information for the two control groups was used for different purposes in that the first group was for analysis of biographical information and its influence on academic performance. The second group was used for analysis of academic results.

In summary, the findings show that:

  • The academic results of the experimental group and the control group do not vary significantly.
  • The results of the second control group were in fact better than that of the experimental group.
  • Five teachers in the experimental group had not completed the requirements of the ACE course despite the support offered by the project.
  • It was encouraging to note that the classroom practice had improved in aspects such as interaction with learners, use of resources and use of balanced teaching approach.
  • Learner results showed improvement, however, it was not statistically significant when compared to the control group and thus could not be attributed with certainty to the NGO intervention with teachers. Also, learner scores in the experimental group remained low despite the intervention which in part related to the low base that learners were at.

Recommendations

Evaluator’s recommendations

The evaluators argued that while investment in the training of teachers was necessary, in terms of cost-benefit this model of intervention was expensive. They recommended that in future, the Foundation should rather offer individual teacher bursaries without the classroom support component since there had been no significant change that could be linked to this component of the project.

Zenex Foundation comments

The project achieved its stated deliverables in as far as improving the qualifications of teachers, considering that 14 of the 19 teachers completed the course and four merit certificates were obtained.

Whilst the project was intended to offer in-school support, contextual issues such as overcrowded classes, absenteeism of teachers and distances between schools rendered the delivery of the project less effective.

Also, the decrease in learner scores was cause for concern. The Foundation should consider sharing the report with the Limpopo Department of Education to raise awareness around possible learner regression in the schools in the province.

Further, lessons from this evaluation could be used to strengthen current school development projects:

  • to put more structure into in-school programmes;
  • to set standards regarding qualifications and calibre of staff appointed to offer support to teachers; and
  • to define content and nature of in-school support by service providers.

The design of the project was not suitable for the tracking of the effects of the intervention on teaching and learning. A long term study would have been more suitable for tracking changes in classroom practice post the academic training of teachers.

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