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

Abstract: We present the impact on learner outcomes of a province-wide Grade R mathematics intervention (termed RMaths) in relation to theoretical frameworks established from a meta-evaluation of evaluations of education interventions in South Africa and a review of other meta-evaluation and synthesis studies. We compare the changes in Mathematics performance from baseline to end line, of learners in the intervention group (taught by R-Maths-trained teachers/practitioners) to the comparison group (learners in schools in the same districts, but whose teachers/practitioners had not yet received the R-Maths intervention). The intervention group performed 2.9  percentage points better than the comparison group over the whole Marko-D test of mathematical competencies, with a small effect size. The greatest effects on performance were from language of learning and teaching, and district. The R-Maths case indicates that a modified cascade model which includes some elements of Fleisch’s “educational triple cocktail” (structured learning materials, teacher training, and support) may be successful by working with, and through, department of education structures. Whether the effects are retained over time and if these effects can be replicated in different contexts is not yet known.


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