In 2020, Valenture Institute - a global online high school - partnered with the iBhodi Trust to develop a model of providing excellent education to learners who come from an impoverished background. They identified 28 mixed-ability learners in Grade 9 from Beaconhill, Mitchell’s Plein in Cape Town to receive Valenture’s online education while remaining within the school they originally came from.
However, they experienced the problem of backlogs in both numeracy and literacy. As such, they partnered with Reflective Learning to assist their need for numeracy catch-up.
Initial baseline results showed that learners suffered from extensive backlogs. While learners were generally three grades behind in Numbers, they were five years behind for Measurement and six years behind for Fractions. This showed in their Cambridge-curriculum grade-level assessments as they achieved an average of 30% with only a quarter passing the test.
The team decided to dedicate one term (13 weeks) purely to remediation of these gaps.
Learners worked on the Reflective Learning app for 30-minutes per day on average and were given class-recognition when they reached key milestones in their learning. The class teacher provided support, answering questions where required.
After only 13 weeks, learners saw a dramatic improvement in both their conceptual catch-up and their grade-level marks. The vast majority of learners caught up to the required grade level in Numbers and Data Literacy, more than half in Fractions, and just less than half in Measurement. On average, the class caught up four years of knowledge across the seven threads of Maths.
This improvement in conceptual knowledge translated to their grade-level assessments. Their third term test showed an increase in the class average to 53% with three-quarters now passing. And after two weeks of further grade-level input, their class average improved to 74%, with only a single learner not passing. One learner jumped from 14% to 84%!
The bars are individual learners and their estimated grade-level of proficiency (even though they were in Grade 9). The yellow shows their baseline results and the green shows their improvement over the 13 weeks.
This case study shows that learners from previously disadvantaged communities have the ability to catch-up tremendous amounts when provided with the right content at the right level, sufficient time with content, consistent positive support, and motivating rewards.
While these learners have yet to complete their catch-up process, they currently stand with a better class average and less inequality in foundational mathematical understanding than the majority of upper-end schools.
* This is based on our experience of running more than 100 000 assessments across schools of all backgrounds.