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.

Tayari: Ready for Maths!

This is a recording of a webinar delivered through the Global Numeracy Community of Practice. The Tayari Program is charged with developing a tested, cost-effective and scalable model of early childhood education (ECE). It is currently being piloted in ECD centers in Kenya, targeting 4-6 year-old children. Tayari includes classroom materials for teachers and students, teacher training and ongoing in-classroom support, and a health component. In this webinar, we will focus on the mathematics classroom materials, and illustrate the collaborative process of developing teacher guides and student activity books that are aligned to the Kenyan ECD Syllabus. We will share our process of creating materials beginning with identifying core skills and aligning these skills to the Kenyan ECD Syllabus, defining our scope and sequence, creating developmentally appropriate activities for maths, and designing the teacher’s guide for ease of use by teachers.

Nepal Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Study

The purpose of this report is to provide data on children’s early grade reading skills as measured by the EGRA. In addition, we report information from an accompanying interview with children, the teacher passage, and select data from the EMES-TOS. The report focuses on these key research questions (RQs): 1. To what extent are students in Grades 2 and 3 learning to read in Nepali? 2. What reading-related skills are students in Grades 2 and 3 acquiring? 3. What factors—both in-school and out-of-school—help explain student performance on the EGRA? 4. How well do teachers understand a written explanation of a proposed Early Grade Reading Program? This analysis is guided through the prism of the core research questions that were developed and agreed upon in consultation with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and its stakeholders. This report presents data that address each of the research questions and draws conclusions based on those data. The report also identifies additional areas for further research or exploration that could be useful for decision makers. To get started, results from the first research questions are presented, providing an overview of the core findings from the EGRA. A brief description of the EGRA and the survey administration follows, as well as some descriptive characteristics of the study. After this, an in-depth analysis for each of the remaining three key research questions is presented. The report finishes with conclusions and recommendations.