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Department of Education

Heather Leigh Kayton

Doctoral Researcher

College Affiliation: Kellogg College

Heather was awarded the 2019 FirstRand FNB Fund Scholarship for International Postgraduate study in Education

Heather’s research looks at the comparability of different language versions of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in the diverse linguistic context of South Africa. She is using techniques from psychometrics and corpus linguistics to explore the difficulty and lexical comparability of PIRLS items and passages across different language versions.

After completing her MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Johannesburg, Heather began teaching in Johannesburg, during which she completed her PGCE part-time. She has come to Oxford after seven years’ experience teaching in primary schools in South Africa. Her research interests include improving the quality and fairness of reading assessments within the diverse linguistic environment of South Africa. Since joining OUCEA, she has been involved in a collaborative project with International Baccalaureate that applies Differential Item Functioning analysis as well as techniques from Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to compare the item difficulty and textual complexity of different language versions of science examinations. Heather is also a member of the OUCEA research team for PIRLS for England 2021.

Investigating comparability across language versions of PIRLS Literacy 2016 in South Africa

McGrane, J., Kayton, H.L, Double, K., Woore, R., & El Masri, Y. Is Science Lost in Translation? Language Effects in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Science Assessments. Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment – Commissioned report for the International Baccalaureate
Kayton, H. L., McGrane, J. A., (forthcoming Dec 2022). PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia – England. Boston College, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center

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