Effectiveness of Teachers’ Guides in the Global South: Scripting, Learning Outcomes, and Classroom Utilization

This report presents the results of RTI International Education’s study on teachers' guides across 13 countries and 19 projects. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we examine how teachers’ guides across the projects differ and find substantial variation in the design and structure of the documents. We develop a scripting index so that the scripting levels of the guides can be compared across projects. The impact results of the programs that use teachers’ guides show significant impacts on learning outcomes, associated with approximately an additional half year of learning, showing that structured teachers’ guides contribute to improved learning outcomes. During observations, we find that teachers make a variety of changes in their classroom instruction from how the guides are written, showing that the utilization of structured teachers’ guides do not create robotic teachers unable to use their own professional skills to teach children. Unfortunately, many changes that teachers make reduce the amount of group work and interactivity that was described in the guides, suggesting that programs should encourage teachers to more heavily utilize the instructional routines designed in the guide. The report includes a set of research-based guidelines that material developers can use to develop teachers’ guides that will support effective instructional practices and help improve learning outcomes. The key takeaway from the report is that structured teachers' guides improve learning outcomes, but that overly scripted teachers' guides are somewhat less effective than simplified teachers' guides that give specific guidance to the teacher but are not written word for word for each lesson in the guide.

How scripted is too scripted? A mixed-methods analysis of literacy teachers' guides- CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Jessica Mejia. In order to understand how literacy programs differ with respect to the amount of scripting in teachers’ guides, we studied teachers’ guide documents from 19 projects in 13 countries. We present the quantitative differences in the level of scripting in these projects. In addition, we selected four countries that had substantial differences in the level and type of scripting in their teachers’ guides. We observed classrooms in those contexts to determine what type of modifications teachers made to the lesson plan as written in the teachers’ guides. We also interviewed the teachers and asked them to describe the reasons for their modifications to the teachers’ guides.

Letting go of the gradual release model in literacy instruction in Kenya- CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Jessica Mejia. The gradual release of responsibility model has been a primary instructional approach in many early grade literacy programs, including the Tusome Early Grade Reading Activity in Kenya. The use of this model dominates literacy instruction for English and Kiswahili in grades one and two. It has been proven successful teaching the very basic skills of literacy at a national scale, rapidly improving learning outcomes in Kenya. The expansion of Tusome to grade 3 by the Kenyan Ministry of Education 2017 required a careful examination of whether and how a precise adherence to the gradual release model is appropriate for higher order skills such as vocabulary, comprehension strategies and writing in Grade 3. Instead, these skills and this grade level lend themselves to a less rigid hold on the gradual release model. When designing Tusome’s Grade 3 instructional materials, a combination of gradual release for the word study and grammar activities and direct instruction for the vocabulary, comprehension and writing activities was used. The leadership of Tusome worked closely with the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development to develop this new set of teaching and learning materials for Grade 3 which will be implemented in the 2018 academic year. This presentation discusses the rationale for a reduction in the adherence to the gradual release model in the design of the Grade 3 materials.

Implementing large-scale instructional technology in Kenya: Changing instructional practice and developing accountability in a National Education System

Article published in the IJEDICT, Vol. 13, No. 3 (2017). Published Abstract: "Previous large-scale education technology interventions have shown only modest impacts on student achievement. Building on results from an earlier randomized controlled trial of three different applications of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on primary education in Kenya, the Tusome Early Grade Reading Activity developed the National Tablets Program. The National Tablets Program is integrated into the Tusome activity by providing tablets to each of more than 1,200 instructional coaches in the country to use when they visit teachers. This enables a national database of classroom instructional quality, which is used by the education system to monitor overall education quality. The tools provided on the tablets are designed to help coaches increase the quality of their instructional support to teachers, and deepen the shallow accountability structures in Kenya’s education system. Using results of a national survey, we investigated the ability of the National Tablets Program to increase the number of classroom observations done by coaches and to improve student learning outcomes. Survey results showed high levels of tablet program utilization, increased accountability, and improvements in learning outcomes. We share recommendations regarding large-scale ICT interventions and literacy programs.

Assessment of Early Grade Reading in the Education Sector in Cambodia [Khmer]

The objective of this sector assessment activity is to identify strengths, weaknesses, and key leverage points to improve children’s reading outcomes within the institutional context of Cambodia’s education system.

Assessment of Early Grade Reading in the Education Sector in Cambodia [English]

The objective of this sector assessment activity is to identify strengths, weaknesses, and key leverage points to improve children’s reading outcomes within the institutional context of Cambodia’s education system.