A systemic evaluation of the South Africa education system linking indicators to policy goals: multilevel analysis of education quality indicators
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One of the major developments in systemic evaluation of education systems is the use of large scale assessment to develop indicators that inform policy decisions to improve education. These developments are however slow in Africa where often studies fail to make 'interconnections between research and policy, and between policy and educational goals'. Our paper attempts to link education quality indicators to the South Africa education policy goals. Another major development in systemic evaluation is the use of multilevel statistical analysis that allows for multiple levels/units of analysis (e.g. learner and school levels) of variation in learners' achievement levels. The paper employs data from South Africa Grade 6 systemic survey to address three main objectives: 1) to demonstrate the use of multilevel modeling in developing indicators of quality schooling outcomes, 2) identify the most important indicators of successful schooling outcomes of South Africa Grade 6 learners, and 3) assign indicators to the South Africa education policy goals of; Access, Quality, Equity and Efficiency (AQEE) to explore the impact of these policy indicators on learning. Our analysis indicated that the quality of the school that students attend is the main determinant of their success in learning. The most successful students tend to attend schools; 1) where there are adequate resources, 2) where students actively participate and are engaged in their learning, and 3) where parents are actively engaged in the education of their children. Students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds however are not as successful as their counterparts from high socioeconomic backgrounds in these high quality schools. Furthermore, the block of indicators related to equity, and the quality of learners' school engagement and parental involvement explained a substantial portion (40 percent and 51 percent respectively) of the variation in school achievement levels. These findings suggest that education policies designed to address issues of equity in ways that engage learners and their parents in the schooling processes can significantly improve school quality and the learning outcomes of students.