What We Are Learning About Learning Networks [CIES 2024 Presentation]

The USAID Leading Through Learning Global Platform (LTLGP) and USAID Improving Learning Outcomes for Asia (ILOA) presented a panel at the 2024 CIES Conference on what each project has been learning about establishing and implementing learning networks. Presentations from three USAID learning networks (HELN, GRN, ECCN) and one regional hub managed by LTLGP along with a presentation from ILOA discuss how each learning network utilizes collaboration, learning, and adapting (CLA) to assess how well their networks are reaching and meeting the needs of their members and how they have adapted and adjusted their networks based on CLA fedback.

ILOA Fact Sheet

One-page fact sheet describing the Improving Learning Outcomes for Asia (ILOA) Activity.

Adapting the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) for Students Who are Deaf in the Philippines [CIES 2023 Panel Presentations]

The purpose of this formal group panel session is to share and discuss the experience in the Philippines of adapting the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. This was conducted in two phases. First, under the USAID-funded Gabay project the traditional EGRA was adapted and piloted for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. The resulting instrument was then used to conduct a baseline assessment in March 2020. Subsequently, in 2022 USAID tasked the All Children Reading Asia (ACR-Asia) project to develop a prototype of the assessment which could be administered remotely to students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing when it is not possible to send trained assessors to physically conduct the assessment in person. This panel will discuss the challenges, successes, and lessons learned through the process and provide recommendations on how other countries or projects could build upon the experience in the Philippines. In 2022, the USAID-Philippines Mission tasked the ACR-Asia project (2016-2023; implemented by RTI International) to develop a prototype EGRA instrument that can be conducted remotely for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. The school closures and travel restrictions imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic created major challenges in reaching all students, including students with disabilities. In addition, the context of the Philippines which experiences frequent adverse weather and geological situations – like typhoons, flooding, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes – coupled with a geography of thousands of islands and hard to reach areas, makes it difficult to conduct on-site and in-person activities in general. Therefore, a remotely administered assessment would help to address these challenges in reaching students, especially those with disabilities, for assessment and support. This panel will address the following: • Addressing the needs of the Philippines for assessing and reaching students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing • Considerations in adapting the traditional EGRA for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing • The process of adapting and piloting an EGRA for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing • Prototyping a remote version of the adapted instrument, including the technological and procedural challenges to address • Lessons learned and recommendations for similar adaptations

Remote EGRA for Learners Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

Early Grade Reading Assessments (EGRAs) measure students’ progress in reading through individual administration of an oral survey of foundational reading skills. Administration is generally conducted on-site by teams of trainer assessors, face to face with students in a one-on-one capacity. While EGRAs are administered internationally, students who are deaf or hard of hearing are often left at a disadvantage by prevailing reading assessments. To adapt EGRAs to fit the needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, USAID has supported the development of EGRAs specifically for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, and the Philippines, among other countries. In the Philippines, these assessments have improved the understanding of and capability in inclusive education programming, including the development and pilot implementation of the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) curriculum and training and mentoring of teachers in FSL. As there is no information on existing models of remotely administered EGRAs, the purpose of this activity was to prototype—design, develop, and test for proof of concept and acceptability—an early grade reading assessment that is administered asynchronously with assessors and enumerators who are not on-site, for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Such a model can be deployed in outbreaks and emergencies that affect the ability to administer EGRAs in person and at a specified period and specifically adapted for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The opportunities and challenges of collaborating with government and other partners on the Ethiopia READ program

Presentation delivered at CIES 2017 (Atlanta). As the READ TA project’s main focus is on providing technical assistance to and building the capacity of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and its Regional Education Bureaus to develop and conduct the foundational components of a reading program (i.e., curriculum development, in-service and pre-service teacher training, and teacher support), the project has had to work through government systems to accomplish its objectives. This has provided great opportunities along with challenges. While there are some activities in which the project has direct involvement in the inputs and outcomes (curriculum development workshops, training of trainers, incorporating technology), there are others which are largely outside of the control of the project (printing of textbooks, training of teachers, government approvals). But all activities are necessary for the reading program to be successful. This requires establishing strong collaborative relationships with government counterparts and having the flexibility to adjust to the ever-changing situation.

Revising English Curriculum in Ethiopia

Presentation delivered at CIES 2017 (Atlanta). In Ethiopia, English as a second language has been taught as a subject in primary schools for many years. At the same time, English has been used as the medium of instruction (MOI) beginning in the upper primary school level. Although the English curriculum has been reviewed and revised a number of times, early grade reading assessments of English indicate that students’ performance continues to be very low in Ethiopia. Other research indicates that one of the major obstacles for providing quality education in secondary and higher education in Ethiopia is the lack of English language proficiency in most students. This presentation will discuss how the USAID-funded READ TA Project is working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education (MOE) to address this problem by revising the English curriculum to more explicitly focus on preparing students to use English as a MOI for all subjects in the upper primary years. By treating English as a future MOI rather than merely as a second language the MOE hopes to make improvements in English proficiency and the quality of education. In order to understand how to best improve the English curriculum the project worked with the MOE to conduct a desk review of the current curriculum along with a nationally representative field study to learn how English is being implemented in schools. As a result, major gaps were identified related to challenges in transition to English as medium of instruction, language content, the teaching-learning approach, alignment of mother tongue and English, and teacher training. To address these gaps READ TA has followed an innovative approach, which was not practiced in previous years, in revising English curriculum materials. This starts from understanding that the English curriculum should be revised comprehensively from kindergarten to grade 12 to have a very clear picture of the progression and ensure cohesion across the grades. It also is based on the understanding that children learn to read and write best in their mother tongue which allows them to bridge to learning to read and write in an additional language (such as English). With this understanding a diverse team of professionals was compiled including reading experts, curriculum experts, gender experts, inclusive education experts, developmental psychologists, assessment experts, and representatives from each of the regions and the MOE.. Quality assurance was taken as a key issue, by making quality assurance at different levels: quality assurance via the support and follow up of lead consultants, quality enhancement through inclusion of high level experts in each team, establishment of an internal quality assurance team which reviews the final product of the development team and provides feedback before the curriculum documents are presented for a wider group, and the formal validation with representatives from the regions and MOE. Another innovative aspect of the revision process is the deliberate attempt made to align the mother tongue and English language curriculum in terms of theme, language content and teaching-learning approach. Alignment of the English school curriculum and college curriculum for English teacher training is also a new experience in the country. By doing so READ TA is enhancing the experience and capacity of diverse professionals while producing quality English curriculum materials and contributing to enhancing the quality of education in Ethiopia.