Status of Early Grade Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa

Student literacy assessments contribute to identifying the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) progress toward Goal 1: improving reading skills for 100 million children by 2015. Tracking progress toward this goal is challenging, and information regarding literacy assessments across sub-Saharan Africa has yet to be fully coordinated. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to advance knowledge of which select countries in sub-Saharan Africa have and have not conducted early grade reading assessments, while also providing information regarding where literacy issues remain critical and where improvement is underway. Twenty countries were selected because of USAID’s presence and continued interest in working to improve educational opportunities within these countries. The 20 countries are as follows: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Egypt Grade 3 Early Grade Reading 2nd National Assessment: Classroom Observations (English and Arabic Versions)

This report presents key findings of a national, stratified random sample of classroom observations of Grade 3 reading instruction in Ministry of Education (MOE) schools. Classroom observation was a component activity of the 2nd national Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) for Grade 3 implemented in April 2014. The classroom observations were completed in a random sub-set of 39 schools from the larger EGRA sample of 200 schools: 40 primary schools from each of five sub-national regions encompassing 25 of Egypt’s 27 governorates.1 One Grade 3 class, randomly selected, was observed in each school. Each classroom observation applied a formal instrument to the observation of a full class period of Grade 3 Arabic reading plus separate interviews with the observed teacher, school principal and librarian. All observations were conducted by trained MOE staff with significant experience of both the ministry’s Early Grade Reading Program and reading assessment. Schools were not informed in advance of the classroom observation.

Task Order 27: Egypt Grade 3 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Group Assessment Report (English and Arabic Versions)

The purpose of this pilot was two-fold: 1) examining the reliability of the group assessment tool to measure the construct of early grade reading; 2) determining whether or not the group assessment could be used as a partial replacement for the individual EGRA.

Egypt Grade 3 Early Grade Reading 2nd National Assessment (English and Arabic Versions)

This report presents key findings of the 2nd national assessment of Grade 3 reading skills in primary schools of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Egypt. This mid-line assessment reports early progress and student achievements after three years’ implementation of the MOE Early Grade Reading Program nationwide, albeit only one year at Grade 3 level. The MOE program, initiated in Grade 1 during the 2011/12 school year, added enhanced reading instruction to Grade 2 in 2012/13 and then to Grade 3 in 2013/14. This 2nd national assessment measures the improvement in Arabic reading proficiency of this first cohort of MOE students to receive successive years of improved reading instruction in Grades 1-3. The findings of this mid-line assessment provide timely results and empirical measures of the initial progress and reading outcomes of the MOE’s Reading Program since the national Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) baseline for Grade 3 in 2013.

Proposing Benchmarks and Targets for Early Grade Reading and Mathematics in Zambia

A National Policy Dialogue Workshop was held on July 1, 2015, followed immediately by a Benchmark Setting Workshop July 2–3, to address the question: "What is an acceptable level of reading and mathematics achievement for Zambian pupils in the early grades of primary school?”

National Assessment Survey of Learning for Grade 2: Preliminary Results for Early Grade Mathematics in Zambia

The 2014 Standard 2 National Assessment Survey (NAS) was intended to provide a national measure of pupil reading (local languages and English) and mathematics skills. The final report for the entire survey will consist of three main sections reporting pupil reading performance: • Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) by local language • Early Grade Reading Assessment in English • Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) This preliminary report focuses on presenting only the results for the EGMA.

USAID/Zambia Education Project Baseline Report: Nonreading Indicators

RTI International was asked to develop 10 nonreading indicators (NRI) related to improved early grade reading (EGR) in Zambia—or more generally, to improved learning outcomes. Accordingly, the desk study that was required as background research for this effort focused on the international literature related to high performing education systems and schools, or “effective schools”; and our own research and experience in the realm of systems reform and reform support for improved learning outcomes. While some of the findings of this desk study may not be immediately applicable to the Zambian context, they nevertheless helped to create an overall understanding of what is needed by a system to improve learning outcomes, and so inform our effort to develop 10 nonreading indicators. The general findings of this desk study are as follows.

National Assessment Survey of Learning Achievement at Grade 2: Results for Early Grade Reading in Zambia

This analysis report for the reading portion of the Grade 2 NAS presents the results for pupil performance on the EGRA in seven local languages, each of which also had a small set of subtasks in English. Additional information about schools, teachers, head teachers, and pupils’ socioeconomic background that was collected alongside the EGRA provides context for many of the results. For grade 2, a nationally representative sample of pupils was selected to take locally developed versions of the EGRA and the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA), which together comprised the Grade 2 National Assessment Survey (NAS). Outcomes on the EGMA portion of the survey, sponsored by the British Department for International Development (DFID), are documented in a separate findings report.

Education Evaluation Services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) The DRC 2015 Early Grade Reading Assessment, Early Grade Mathematics Assessment, and Snapshot of School Management Effectiveness—Report of Lessons Learned, Revised

This report focuses on practical lessons learned from the implementation of these assessments that may be helpful for further assessments in the DRC and elsewhere.

Education Evaluation Services in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) The DRC 2015 Early Grade Reading Assessment, Early Grade Mathematics Assessment, and Snapshot of School Management Effectiveness – Grade 3 Report of Findings

This study primarily provides USAID and the GDRC with information regarding the ability of Grade 3 children to read in three of the DRC’s national languages (Lingala, Kiswahili, and Tshiluba), those same pupils’ receptive and productive oral French skills, and Grade 5 children’s ability to read in French. Other elements of the study provide insight into the numeracy skills of Grade 3 children in one district in Katanga as well as the French reading and numeracy skills of Level 3 pupils in the Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs). The study also provides background context and data related to key pupil, teacher, head teacher, and school variables that are hypothesized to be good predictors of pupil performance in early grade literacy and numeracy. This diagnostic information will help policymakers make data-informed decisions regarding remediation strategies that can improve the quality of instruction and pupil learning outcomes in early primary grades. English and French versions are available for download.