The effects of a ‘catch-up’ reading intervention for Grade 5 learners and teachers

  • Belden Liswaniso University of Namibia
  • Elizabeth Pretorius University of South Africa


This article reports on the effectiveness of a reading comprehension intervention that was implemented in Namibia. It aimed to empower teachers with knowledge and strategies for teaching reading comprehension, so as to improve the low reading comprehension of Grade 5 learners. The intervention targeted the improvement of performance in both the decoding and comprehension aspects of reading and was carried out during two school terms, in which teachers were provided with teaching and learning resources, guidance on how to utilise the resources and coaching on instructional practices. The study involved two control and two intervention schools. A modest interventionist approach was applied in which four of the six quality criteria for formative assessment of intervention programmes, as proposed by Nieveen (2007) were adopted to guide the study. Analysis of the pre- and post-intervention scores for the intervention and control groupsindicated larger effect sizes in decoding ability and reading comprehension at the intervention schools than at the control schools. The intervention teachers also seemed to have changed some of their instructional practices and some shifts in their attitudes towards teaching reading were discerned. The findings suggest that better quality teaching and learning can happen if teachers receive ongoing support to enhance their instructional practices. With effective reading instructional practices, learners’ decoding skills are developed, resulting in improved reading comprehension levels.