Improving early grade reading and writing outcomes has implications more far-reaching than simply raising scores on national and international assessments. Reading is a fundamental tool for thinking and learning, which has an integrated and cumulative effect on comprehension in all subject areas. Providing students with a strong foundation in reading increases the likelihood of future academic and workforce success.
By providing Palestinian teachers with additional strategies and resources to build essential primary students’ reading and writing skills, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Early Grade Reading (EGR) Project supported the goal of the USAID mission in the West Bank/Gaza of “providing a new generation of Palestinians with quality education and competencies that would enable them to thrive in the global economy and empower them to participate actively in a well-governed society.” Specifically, EGR addressed USAID’s strategic Sub-objective 3.1.5 to improve “service delivery in the education sector through increased access to quality education, especially in marginalized areas of the West Bank; a higher quality of teaching, learning and education management practices; and improved quality and relevancy of the education system at all levels.” EGR also directly supports USAID’s global goal to improve early grade reading skills.
In support of the overarching goals, EGR’s project goal was to facilitate change in classroom delivery of early grade reading and writing instruction through three inter-connected component areas including evidence-based standards and curriculum revisions, instructional improvements, and parental engagement activities designed to improve student reading and writing competencies in Kindergarten (KG)–Grade 2 in the West Bank.
EGR offered a scalable model of early grade reading instruction in 104 West Bank public schools among 351 teachers who taught 9,679 students. EGR collected data through reviews of curricular and standards’ documents, studies in schools, and assessments of students’ reading competencies. The project developed book leveling criteria to ensure the age- and grade-level appropriateness of reading materials, which facilitated the development or procurement of over 100,000 books for schools. EGR provided the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) with training modules in early grade reading and writing skills, a reading remediation manual, and a school-based professional development model. The project created innovative materials for parents to use to enhance their children’s reading skills. Despite its abbreviated timeframe, the project provided the MOEHE with a wealth of educational data, materials, and resources, including many interventions offered for the first time in the Palestinian educational system.