Improving Grade R mathematics teaching in South Africa: Evidence from an impact evaluation of a province-wide intervention


Impact on learner outcomes of a province-wide Grade R Mathematics intervention (termed R-Maths) are presented in relation to theoretical frameworks established from a meta-evaluation of education evaluation studies in South Africa. The changes in Mathematics performance from base- to endline, of learners taught by R-Maths-trained teacher/practitioners and those not, indicated that the greatest effects on performance were from language of learning and teaching, and district. But the intervention group did perform better than the comparison group: 2.9 percentage points better over the whole Marko-D test, with a small effect size. The R-Maths case indicates that a modified cascade model which includes some elements of the ‘educational triple cocktail’ (structured learning materials, teacher training, and support) may be successful by working with, and through, department of education structures, in this case subject advisors. Whether the effects are retained over time and if these effects can be replicated in other South African provinces with significantly different contexts is not yet known.

Author Biographies

Garth Spencer-Smith, University of Johannesburg (CEPR)

Research Associate at the Centre for Education Practice Research (UJ)

Nicky Roberts, University of Johannesburg (CEPR)

Associate Professor at the Centre for Education Practice Research (UJ)