Setting reading benchmarks in South Africa
In 2019, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), South African academics and reading practitioners and international benchmarking experts began exploring early grade reading benchmarking. Benchmarking is an important educational tool that allows:
Teachers, schools and parents to monitor that the child is mastering components of reading and report on them according to age, grade and milestones. For example, the South African curriculum requires that all Grade 1 learners know their letter sounds.
The school, district, province and DBE to use progress against benchmarks to measure the quality of educational delivery and use this data to provide input into policy reform, to design training and to influence pre-service teacher training.
South Africa has 11 official languages that vary in terms of structure and complexity. While there are benchmarking elements in all languages embedded in the curriculum, there is no comprehensive or systematic benchmarking process. This report expands on the complexity of these languages and many of the issues that arise when trying to design benchmarks.
This document summarises more than 100 policy documents, research reports, and journal articles.