Policy Papers and Research

What do we know about primary teachers’ mathematical content knowledge in South Africa? An analysis of SACMEQ 2007.

"There is consensus in the international mathematics teacher education literature that teachers should, at the most basic level, have mastery of the content knowledge they are required to teach. In this paper we test this assumption empirically by analyzing the South African SACMEQ 2007 mathematics teacher test data which tested 401 grade 6 mathematics teachers from a nationally representative sample of primary schools. With items matched to curriculum grade bands, findings indicate that 79% of grade 6 mathematics teachers showed content knowledge levels below the grade 6/7 band, and that the few teachers with higher-level content knowledge are highly inequitably distributed."
"An extensive body of assessment data points to poor performance in mathematics across all levels of the schooling system in South Africa. This data ranges from classroom observation and localized small-scale studies (Schollar, 2008; Ensor et al., 2009) to nationally representative assessments of mathematics achievement, such as SACMEQ, TIMSS and the National School Effectiveness Study (NSES).1 An analysis of this literature reveals a variety of frameworks and methodologies, but across these, unanimous agreement on the very low and highly unequal performance of South African students."

Tags: Maths and Science