Original Research

Making sense of the PIRLS 2006 results for South Africa

Hilary Janks
Reading & Writing | Vol 2, No 1 | a11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v2i1.11 | © 2011 Hilary Janks | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 May 2011 | Published: 25 May 2011

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Hilary Janks, University of the Witwatersrand

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Results on the PIRLS test in 2006 make it clear that South African educators need to examine the way in which they teach literacy in the Foundation phase. While the test gives a fair indication of what our children cannot do, it is less clear about what they can do. Mastery of decoding, for example, is assumed and children are tested on their ability to read lengthy texts and answer cognitively demanding questions. The test is therefore not a good indicator of whether learners can decode or not. By setting the kinds of skills demanded by PIRLS, against Freebody and Luke’s roles of the reader, this article suggests that the problem with literacy learning in our schools is that too often students do not get much beyond decoding and basic comprehension. !ey are not taught to be text ‘participants’,text ‘users’ or text ‘analysts’. Literacy interventions in schools need to prepare students to ask and answer middle and higher order questions on texts written in their home language if they are to move from learning to read to reading to learn.


Mastery of decoding


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Crossref Citations

1. Assessing early grade reading: the value and limits of ‘words per minute’
Barbara Elaine Graham, Agatha J. van Ginkel
Language, Culture and Curriculum  vol: 27  issue: 3  first page: 244  year: 2014  
doi: 10.1080/07908318.2014.946043