English academic writing convergence for academically weaker senior secondary school students
Possibility or pipe-dream?
This paper discusses key findings of a study which sought to assess the impact of the Reading to Learn (RtL) literacy intervention on individual student performance as applied to senior secondary school students at two schools in the Western Cape of South Africa. The RtL intervention was implemented against a backdrop of serious concerns about the state of literacy development in schools in South Africa, especially amongst non-native English-speaking students from low socioeconomic communities as well as migrant communities. By taking each student's written pieces of work, submitted at various stages throughout the academic school year, each piece of writing was assessed and codified, which allowed for a detailed examination of various patterns using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The salient finding was that students, who were shown to be academically weaker pre-intervention, generally exhibited a greater overall improvement in their respective English writing skills throughout the intervention. Thus, with an appropriately targeted intervention (like RtL) a convergence or ‘catch-up’ effect might likely occur for classes with large cohorts of non-native English-speaking students, who are immersed in English medium-of-instruction schools.