Noupoort high school learners starting to bridge maths gap, South Africa

It is a well-known fact that South Africa has a mathematics teaching and learning crisis and while the debate continues between lowering the pass rates or making pupils repeat a year, the issue remains that schools and society need to address the education standards, to help future generations be better prepared to contribute to the economy and reduce the levels of poverty.

Diagnostics applied to reflect the conceptual understanding of Grade 8 learners at Enoch Mthetho Secondary School, revealed last year the majority of learners were performing at a Grade 3 level.  Wishing to help address this massive gap, Noupoort Wind Farm put a large portion of their economic development funding into a multifaceted analytics programme to address individual learner deficits as well as teaching techniques.

“We began funding the implementation of a STEM programme that looks at identifying learning deficits acquired from early grades for targeted remedial attention,” explained Livhuwani Nwachukwu, Economic Development Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.

The programme is addressing mathematics concepts with a reflective approach, which has been shown to be able to catch up the equivalent of six grades in a single year.  So far, the programme which began late in 2017 has focused on teachers.

The next step is to address each learner’s shortfall, by providing a personalised textbook based on the individual’s results in the diagnostic assessment. This allows more effective independent learning for teachers to provide additional support with structured lessons.

“We are very ambitious about the results of this programme and expect to see dramatic improvements in each learner’s development, within the year,” added Nwachukwu.

About the Maths Programme:

In order to interpret the diagnostic data and to be able to use this data to address learners’ acquired learning deficits, a two-day workshop at Enoch Mthetho Secondary School was run with teachers and learners. One day involved teachers only and focussed on the Reflective Learning cohort reports and data interpretation skills development for the teachers to optimally use these to meet their learners Maths needs.

The second day involved both learners and teachers and focussed on the Reflective Learning individual reports and metacognitive activation and development for the learners to engage in their own learning process.

A final annual 2-day workshop for the teachers to compare baseline results with summative results and understand progress made will be conducted after the second annual diagnostic test.

Each learner is to receive a printed ‘personalised’ textbook based on their results in the diagnostic assessment. This will allow more effective independent learning by the learners, and will allow teachers to provide additional support with structured lessons.

Reflective Learning Diagnostics enable the teachers to use an embedded assessment as a learning approach to direct and adapt their teaching to meet their specific learners’ needs and as a result measurably improve Maths competence and understanding.

A Reflective Learning trainer will conduct follow-up workshops once every two months over the course of each year to assist teachers in their lessons, continuous evaluation and learner support. The duration of each workshop will range from 2 to 5 days depending on the requirements of the teachers.

NOTE:

  • Of all the South African Grade 12 learners writing their National Senior Certificate examinations at the end of 2016, only 44% wrote Mathematics, of which only 51% passed the subject.
  • Research shows that learners acquire learning deficits in their early years of schooling which snowball into larger deficits in higher grades and as these gaps grows, remediation becomes more and more difficult.
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