The Breakthrough: Uplands Outreach

What We Learnt
  • Students have the ability to catchup 4-6 grades of knowledge in Mathematics within a single year
  • Personalised diagnostic assessment can be used to actively engage students in their own learning process
  • The building of knowledge along logical learning trajectories helps learners make sense of the subject they are learning
  • The catchingup of learning gaps can take place concurrently to other grade level support.
The Background

In January 2012, Uplands Outreach started a project called Learners for Excellence (L4E) in which five promising Grade 10 Maths learners from each of the 10 Insikazi circuit high schools were selected to participate. It was a 3year Mathematics student enrichment Saturday programme aimed at empowering learners to be ready for tertiary education.

The Baseline Results at Uplands Outreach

Reflective Learning’s high school assessment assessed the across the seven conceptual threads, benchmarking them at Grades 3, 6 and 9 levels to expose any learning gaps. The results of the baseline tests results were disappointing especially considering that these learners were chosen to participate in the L4E programme either because of their achievement or interest in Mathematics. Overall, the learners achieved an average of just 23.8%. The highest achievement was 48% while the lowest was just 10%. In reality, this should not have come as a surprise because the South African Annual National Assessments (ANAs) had been administered for the first time in 2011 to Grade 3 and Grade 6 students with disappointing results.

The Intervention

There was limited time available for remediation as students continued with the support provided at gradelevel. As an integral part of the approach, these diagnostic results were shared with the students to serve as a blueprint for personal remediation. The customised feedback identified individual conceptual difficulties which helped students take responsibility and ownership of their personal learning development. Their gaps were then targeted by providing material specific to their needs on a weeklybasis while working with groups at various levels during a one hour weekly Saturday lesson. Students focused on developing deep understanding often from Grade 1 level up to Grade 9 level. Students analysed their results each week which developed their overall learning skills as they learnt to identify, understand and conquer their own specific misconceptions and errors to attain Maths mastery

Overall Improvements 

A year later, students completed a postintervention assessment to measure the progress made and the results were incredible. Students caught up an average of 4 grades, with one student catching up more than 6 grades! Every student improved significantly.

The results at Uplands Outreach after the intervention from Reflective Learning

Thread Improvements

When looking at the threads, improvements occurred across the board. It should be noted that Fractions and ProblemSolving were the most difficult  threads to remediate.


The Long-Term Impact

Those same students went on to excel in their final school exams two years later. That group achieved 3times the national average for Bachelor Exemptions and distinctions. 29 of them received bursaries for tertiary studies and they had 100% pass rate for their first year of studies! Years later, they have qualified in fields as diverse as engineering, teaching, pharmacy, IT and law



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