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The National School Effectiveness Study

The project was undertaken by a consortium made up of the Human Sciences Research Council (the lead organisation), the Education Policy Consortium, JET Education Services, and the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, with the support of the Department of Education. The NSES study, conducted under the theme of improving school effectiveness, was designed to enable the gain scores of a learner over any one-year period to be related to the practices followed by the teacher for the same year. The study followed a group of children for three years, starting with Grade 3 in 2007 and ending in Grade 5 in 2009. Around 16 000 children participated in each year of data gathering, during which a cohort of 8 383 was tracked over all three years. The NSES culminated in the publication of the book Creating Effective Schools, edited by Nick Taylor, Servaas ven der Berg and Thabo Mabogoane

The NSES research study aimed to identify lessons for policy and practice for government, principals, teachers, and parents. National policy lessons arising from any research study are most powerful if they can be shown to apply to the whole school population, and in order to address this consideration a nationally representative sample of 268 schools was drawn for the study. All provinces were included in the sample except Gauteng, which was excluded when it was discovered that provincial tests were being written at the same time as the first round of NSES data collection.

Learner performance, the dependent variable, was assessed by means of literacy and mathematics tests which were administered in English to the learners at the end of each year. We also administered a very short test in their respective subjects to maths and language teachers.

An asset-based method for assessing both school and learner socio-economic status (SES) was used, which has been demonstrated in other studies to provide a reliable proxy for SES. Learners were also given a questionnaire to describe the educational practices they experience at home: reading, homework, and exposure to the language of instruction of the school.

DATA from the study for research purposes can be accessed through DataFirst, a Research Unit and Data Service based at the University of Cape Town

Read more of The National School Effectiveness Study (NSES) Summary for the Synthesis Report by Nick Taylor.

See also HSRC Review, Volume 9, Number 3, September 2011.

More about the book: Creating Effective Schools, edited by Nick Taylor, Servaas ven der Berg and Thabo Mabogoane. 


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