Classroom assessment of reading comprehension: how are preservice Foundation Phase teachers being prepared?

19 November 2012

A number of assessment studies in recent years have shown that the educational achievement of learners in South African schools is unacceptably poor. The Department of Education’s systemic evaluations, conducted in Grade 3 (first cycle in 2001, second cycle in 2007) show very low levels of literacy among learners. Reading comprehension and writing scores averaged 39% for the first and 36% for the second cycle. Research indicates that less attention has been given to children’s reading comprehension skills compared to decoding skills. Teacher preparation programmes should provide candidates with a rigorous, research-based curriculum and opportunities to practise a range of predefined skills and knowledge. The demands of competent literacy instruction and assessment, and the training experiences necessary to learn it, have been seriously underestimated by universities. Teacher education programmes should ensure that teachers, amongst other crucial aspects, know how to assess the progress of every student and change instruction when it is not working and also know how to communicate results of assessments to various stakeholders, especially parents. The purpose of this article is to report on the training that pre-service teachers receive, related to reading comprehension assessment practices, within a BEd foundation phase teacher preparation programme.