South African teacher profiles and emerging teacher factors : the picture painted by PIRLS 2006

11 Aug 2011

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessment is an international comparative study of reading skills of Grade Four learners. South Africa’s first participation in the study took place in the 2006 cycle (Mullis et al., 2007), with repeat participation planned to take place for PIRLS 2011. PIRLS 2006 results pointed to serious issues of under achievement among South African Grade Four learners, resulting in the adoption of the National Reading Strategy (Department of Education, 2008) and the Foundations for Learning Campaign. While some time has passed since the release of the PIRLS 2006 results, participation in PIRLS 2011 would highlight trends and possible progress made since the PIRLS 2006 study. This paper reports on the analysis of the Grade Four learner achievement in the PIRLS 2006 assessment into the teacher characteristics, use of resources and instructional practices and analyses of the PIRLS 2006 Teacher Questionnaire data. The main findings outlined by this paper reflects the need for teachers’ continued professional development at Intermediate Phase, the need to employ strategies to retain young teachers and the importance of making available good quality reading materials to schools.