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.

Instructional models in early mathematics: Can the "I do, we do, you do" model support the development of mathematical thinking? CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Yasmin Sitabkhan. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the applicability of the direct instruction (DI) model (also known as the “I do, We do, You do” model) for early grades mathematics instruction in low-income contexts through data gathered on two projects, the Tayari Early Childhood Project in Kenya and the Liberia Teacher Training Project (LTTP2). The results from the two studies point to the effectiveness of the gradual release of responsibility model for early mathematics instruction. The model as it is, with an explicit I do, we do, and you do” section for each concept, does not align with best practices in early mathematics instruction. However, the workshop model, which essentially is a “we do, you do” model, may foster more productive instruction that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving behavior.

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.

Beyond the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment: Informing Practice

Presentation delivered at CIES 2017 (Atlanta). The international education community agrees on the importance of measuring the level of student’s knowledge in the early grades (Learning Metrics Task Force, 2013). For mathematics, the EGMA has been widely used by governments, donors, and implementers in low- and middle-income countries. However, even though the EGMA was designed to provide a snapshot of student performance at a systems level, it is often interpreted as being representative of students’ overall mathematical ability. Left unmeasured by the EGMA is the mathematics that children use and develop as part of their everyday life, such as the strategies they use to solve simple arithmetical problems. The purpose of this paper is to explore an alternative methodology for measuring children’s mathematical knowledge that, together with the EGMA, can provide a more complete picture of children’s mathematical ability and inform next steps to improving instruction.

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.

Early Primary Mathematics Education in Arab Countries of the Middle East and North Africa

MENA countries are facing significant challenges in providing access to quality education for children in the early grades. However, it is important to note that the situation in the MENA region is not so different from that in other regions of the Global South: quality and learning are not being achieved. In MENA countries, achievement in math is not only associated with the effectiveness of teaching and learning, but also with providing an equitable system of education for all children. This paper presents the state of mathematics education in the MENA region and suggests means to improve it according to the pertinent cultural and social context.

Learning Outcomes Assessments and Numeracy With Reference to Early Grade Numeracy in Low Income Countries

The focus of this desk study is to provide information on the assessment of early numeracy learning outcomes as an integral part of efforts aimed at increasing education quality in low income countries. In order to provide focus for the study, GIZ identified three assessment-related challenges, which are crosscutting for each of the sections of the study: Using assessment to support children in mastering foundational concepts and competencies, such as number sense and computation. 2. Relating or adapting assessment to the environments of children in low income countries. 3. Applying assessment to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the informal mathematics that children bring to school.

Learning Outcomes Assessments and Numeracy With Reference to Early Grade Numeracy in Low Income Countries (Presentation)

The focus of this desk study is to provide information on the assessment of early numeracy learning outcomes as an integral part of efforts aimed at increasing education quality in low income countries. In order to provide focus for the study, GIZ identified three assessment-related challenges, which are crosscutting for each of the sections of the study: Using assessment to support children in mastering foundational concepts and competencies, such as number sense and computation. 2. Relating or adapting assessment to the environments of children in low income countries. 3. Applying assessment to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the informal mathematics that children bring to school.

Using an Assessment of Early Mathematical Knowledge and Skills to Inform Policy and Practice: Examples from the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment

Article published in the International Journal of Education in Math, Science and Technology, Volume 4, Number 3. (Open Access). Published abstract: "This paper describes the development and intended uses of the Early Grades Mathematics Assessment (EGMA), which measures essential early mathematical knowledge and skills that are foundational to more sophisticated mathematical abilities, predictive of later achievement, and teachable. Administering the EGMA can provide policy makers, practitioners, and researchers with information about whether existing educational policies, curricular reforms or programs, and instructional interventions are supporting students in reaching important goals in mathematics. We highlight the utility of the EGMA results in three abbreviated illustrations of implementation studies in low-income countries. Recommendations for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers are provided."

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.

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