What We Have Learned in the Past Decade: RTI's Approach to Early Grade Literacy Instruction

Over the past decade, RTI International has pursued the goal of quality, inclusive, differentiated early grade literacy instruction in nearly 30 early grade reading or early grade literacy programs in low- and middle-income (LMI) countries. Across our diverse portfolio, we have supported Ministries of Education (Ministries) in diverse contexts in their development and implementation of research-based early grade literacy programs and have learned important lessons based on our experience working with Ministries to design, develop, and implement early grade literacy programs. This paper describes the core elements that we have found to improve early grade literacy instruction and learner outcomes: the approach to teaching (Teach), the availability of quality, relevant learner materials (Text), the effective use of instructional time (Time), the use of formative assessment to guide instruction (Test), and provision of instruction in the most effective language (Tongue). This paper focuses on the acquisition of literacy in alphabetic and alphasyllabic languages in the early primary years (most typically, academic levels 1 through 3) and the kinds of exposures, instruction, and support learners need to become fully literate. These are the elements of a literacy program that can be taught, that should be present in teaching and learning materials and in teacher trainings, and that relate specifically to what happens in a classroom.

Malawi Early Grade Reading Activity: Scripting Study Report (Presentation)

Presentation delivered at CIES 2017 (Atlanta). The Malawi Early Grade Reading Activity (EGRA), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by RTI International, is designed to support the Malawi Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in improving the reading performance of Malawian learners in Standards 1–3. One of the primary goals of the Activity is improving the quality and availability of pedagogical materials for early grade reading; to do so, EGRA developed a teacher’s guide with scripted lessons plans (SLPs) for classroom teachers to follow when teaching lessons in both Chichewa and English. A goal of this study was to investigate teacher use of the SLPs in Standard 1 and 2 classrooms. EGRA included teacher training and in-class support for teachers as they used the SLPs. Teachers received several days of specific, targeted training each year regarding phonics-based reading instruction and the gradual release of responsibility model (I do, We do, You do). They also received theory- and practice-based training in the use of the SLPs to deliver high-quality instruction and practicum sessions during which they delivered lessons to groups of current Standard 1–3 learners. The purpose of this study was to shed light on how teachers were using the SLPs in their classrooms to better understand the ways in which the trainings and the materials themselves were supporting teachers, and the ways in which the trainings could be modified.

Malawi Early Grade Reading Activity: Scripting Study Report

The Malawi Early Grade Reading Activity (EGRA), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by RTI International, is designed to support the Malawi Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) in improving the reading performance of Malawian learners in Standards 1–3. One of the primary goals of the Activity is improving the quality and availability of pedagogical materials for early grade reading; to do so, EGRA developed a teacher’s guide with scripted lessons plans (SLPs) for classroom teachers to follow when teaching lessons in both Chichewa and English. A goal of this study was to investigate teacher use of the SLPs in Standard 1 and 2 classrooms. EGRA included teacher training and in-class support for teachers as they used the SLPs. Teachers received several days of specific, targeted training each year regarding phonics-based reading instruction and the gradual release of responsibility model (I do, We do, You do). They also received theory- and practice-based training in the use of the SLPs to deliver high-quality instruction and practicum sessions during which they delivered lessons to groups of current Standard 1–3 learners. The purpose of this study was to shed light on how teachers were using the SLPs in their classrooms to better understand the ways in which the trainings and the materials themselves were supporting teachers, and the ways in which the trainings could be modified.