It is essential for learners to develop foundational literacy skills, ideally, in the first grade of formal education. These skills are then firmly entrenched and can be expanded in the following grades to form a basis for all future academic studies. Appropriate assessment practices and tools to aid this process can inform the achievement of quality education. Assessment and the curriculum are intertwined concepts in relation to teaching and learning. Through assessment, it can be established if all learners have attained curriculum content, knowledge and proficiencies in a given year. Furthermore, assessment can assist in advising teachers on which specific areas learners are struggling with as well as provide insight for remedial measures. Together, this can offer ways to improve education. In this article, individual oral assessment using the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) tool is discussed based on two recent impact evaluations of teacher interventions. Each intervention conceptualised its own theory of change to improve learner language and literacy development. The interventions also differed in relation to the target language; English as First Additional Language and Setswana as Home Language. Despite these differences, using the EGRA tool in both intervention evaluations allowed for a discussion on its usefulness in South Africa. This was done with regard to suitability, reliability and validity, assistance to educators, amendments and suggestions to overcoming challenges related to practicalities. In conclusion, recommendations for improving education and the development of literacy in South African schools are made.