Developing school-level instruments for better understanding effective numeracy instruction at scale [CIES 2023 Presentation]

While there has been substantial investment in early-grade reading in low- and middle-income country contexts (LMICs) in the last 15 years, and a concomitant increase in evidence around what works to improve reading outcomes, there has been much more limited investment in early-grades mathematics. As a result, the body of evidence on what works to improve mathematics teaching and learning in LMICs is more limited. This study has identified six government- and program-led interventions in LMICs that have evidence of impact on students’ numeracy outcomes and are working at scale, to understand how and why they are effective and consolidate that evidence for the international education community. In order to examine the target programs, the study team has developed a suite of instruments designed to examine the programs and to identify common elements that these successful numeracy may have in common. The goal in designing these instruments was to be able to examine a range of potential factors, based on the evidence that we have on mathematics teaching and learning from research in high-income country contexts, as well as the limited research evidence we have from LMICs. This suite of instruments includes: (1) a quantitative classroom observation instrument, based on multiple frameworks for high-quality math instruction, including work by The Danielson Group (2019), The University of Michigan’s High Leverage Teaching practices, and a cross-institutional working group of math education experts working in LMICs (co-author, 2019); (2) a student cognitive interview instrument intended to provide insight into students’ development of higher order, conceptual understanding of basic mathematics concepts; (3) a qualitative classroom observation instrument and accompanying lesson-based teacher interview; (4) a survey of teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, based on work by Deborah Ball (2011). Focusing primarily on the quantitative classroom observation and student cognitive interview instruments, this paper will present the theoretical foundations of the instrument and the processes for developing, piloting, and adapting the instruments for different country and program contexts. Preliminary findings and lessons learned from utilizing the tools for data collection across country contexts will also be shared. Given the need to expand the body of evidence around what works to improve math teaching and learning, these instruments represent potentially valuable resources for research in this area – and the authors look forward to discussing the potential for use and further development/adaptation.

The mathematical knowledge for teaching survey [CIES 2023 Presentation]

The Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) is a short survey (23 items) that measures primary grade teacher knowledge by a) math domains and b) pedagogical and content knowledge. Math domain included Number Sense, Operations, Geometry, and Measurement. Pedagogical knowledge was measured by problems that measured teacher understanding of Developmental Progression, Scaffolding, and Content knowledge. In this presentation, we will discuss the process of developing the MKT survey, highlight exemplary results from the Kyrgyz Republic, and then discuss the various uses of this survey. The MKT survey build from previous work in measurement of teachers’ MKT in the United States and other countries (Ball, 2008; Cole, 2012). Our goal was to create an instrument that focused on the early primary grade and was easily adaptable to multiple contexts. To do this, we created an initial instrument, conducted cognitive interviews with math and learning experts form several countries, and then conducted a pilot in the Kyrgyz Republic and Nepal. In Kyrgyz Republic, the MKT test was administered to 323 primary grade teachers in 30 pilot schools as a pre-post training survey as part of the USAID Okuu Keremet! The survey was administered online in two languages. Analysis of pre-post test showed that the survey was effective in detecting changes in teacher knowledge across all math domains and pedagogical and content knowledge areas. In Nepal, we conducted cognitive interviews with teachers, providing additional insights into how teachers were thinking about early math knowledge. Finally, we conclude with the different potential uses for this survey, such as diagnosing and measuring changes in teacher knowledge over time and using it as professional development tool to develop teacher knowledge. We will discuss implications for the use of this tool for the wider development audience.

The Teacher Professional Support System in Nepal: A case of implementation research informing policy [CIES 2023 Presentation]

In 2014, the Nepal Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MOEST) developed a National Early Grade Reading Program (NEGRP), aimed at improving the reading achievement of early-grade students throughout Nepal. USAID has supported the government’s efforts to improve early-grade reading under NEGRP through both Government-to-Government funding and through the Early-Grade Reading Program (EGRP) I & II from 2015-2022. The NEGRP focused on evidence-based pillars for foundational literacy: Curriculum and materials, Teacher training and ongoing support, Community Mobilization, Assessment, and Systems strengthening. This paper will focus on the teacher ongoing support pillar of NEGRP and describe how processes of Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning and Adaptation informed the evolution of the Ministry’s Teacher Professional Support System. EGRP & EGRP II were implemented in the context of Nepal’s transition to federalism, which began following the ratification of its constitution in 2015. This resulted in a situation where roles and responsibilities within the education system were in flux and authority for decision-making and funding shifted to the local level. Thus, implementation decisions had to recognize and adjust to a context in-flux. From the outset of NEGRP, the model for ongoing teacher support was based on evidence in the field on what works, with a heavy reliance on external coaches who could provide feedback and support to teachers on a regular basis. Challenges in the Nepal context, including the diversity of contexts within Nepal, as well as the changes taking place due to federalism, made it apparent that adjustments would be needed. As a result, EGRP supported the MOEST to undertake the first implementation research study, which supplemented Monitoring and Evaluation data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher support model, as well as to identify possible alternatives. A second iteration of the government’s model for Teacher Professional Support was developed based on the findings from this learning and joint reflection by stakeholders, government officials, and project staff – together with the continuing evolution around teacher learning and support in the field more broadly. A second round of monitoring, learning, and operational research enabled EGRP and MOEST to further hone the model – as well as to provide needed further adjustments to align with the newly federalized system as it evolved. Based on those findings and joint reflection, GoN developed a Teacher Professional Support that incorporates a flexible menu of options that enables local authorities to determine the combination of approaches that will be most suitable for their local context and to address local challenges. This paper will briefly present the iterations to the NEGRP ongoing teacher support model, explore the MERLA approaches that were used in this adaptive process and discuss lessons learned. The authors would then seek to engage the audience in discussion around the broader implications and pose the question: how can program design build in opportunities for this type of iterative learning from the outset?

Using ICT to support evidence-informed instruction [Presentation]

This presentation was delivered by Wendi Ralaingita at the Open Learning Exchange (OLE) conference in Kathmandu, Nepal (November 2017). It provides an overview of RTI's evidence-based approach to ICT integration, based largely on the Improvement Science literature, particularly Edward Deming. Describes uses of Tangerine open-source software for teacher coaching (Tangerine:Tutor) and classroom continuous assessment (Tangerine:Class) as well as hearing and vision screening tools integrated with EGRA and EGMA assessments.

Early Grade Reading and Mathematics in Rwanda: Final Report (EdData II Task Order 7)

In March 2011, a research team evaluated the skills of 420 P4 and 420 P64 students with an Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) instrument adapted to the Rwandan curriculum and context. An English-language Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) instrument was adapted to the Rwandan context, while a Kinyarwanda-language instrument was developed based on the linguistic structure of the Kinyarwanda language.5 We gathered a diverse range of information using the Snapshot of School Management Effectiveness (SSME) instruments developed by the EdData II project and customized for the Rwandan context. A random selection of districts and non-private schools in Rwanda were included in the survey, and therefore students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds are represented.

Classroom-up policy change: Early reading and math assessments at work

This article reviews the development of the EGRA and EGMA, which are locally tailored, timely assessments designed to directly inform policy and instruction for learning improvement, particularly for countries on the lower end of the income spectrum. The history of the design and implementation of the tools as well as case studies of their use in Egypt and Kenya, are a useful counterbalance to the experience of the more traditional international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) documented in this special issue—in particular for understanding the needs of countries struggling to transform ‘education for all’ into ‘learning for all’.

Improving procedural and conceptual mathematics outcomes: evidence from a randomised controlled trial in Kenya

Article published in the Journal of Development Effectiveness, Volume 8, 2016 - Issue 3. Published Abstract: To improve learning outcomes, an intervention in Kenya called the Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) Initiative provided pupil learning materials, teachers’ guides and modest teacher professional development in mathematics. This paper presents the causal impact of PRIMR’s mathematics intervention on pupil achievement indices for procedural and conceptual numeracy, using a differences-in-differences analytic strategy. The mathematics intervention produced modest, statistically significant results: generally similar results for males and females, a larger impact in grade 2 than grade 1, a larger impact in nongovernment schools than public schools, and smaller outcomes in mathematics than for English or Kiswahili. These findings have relevant policy implications in Kenya given an impending national mathematics programme.

Student Performance in Reading and Mathematics, Pedagogic Practice, and School Management in Doukkala Abda, Morocco

Assessments of student learning in the primary grades, such as the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA), offer an opportunity to determine whether children are developing the fundamental skills upon which all other literacy and mathematical skills build, and, if not, where efforts might be best directed. To answer these questions about learning and the factors influencing it in Morocco, a study was carried out in a sample of schools in the Doukkala Abda region. The study investigated early grade reading and math skills and the learning environments that support them. It was completed as part of the Education Data for Decision Making (EdData II) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with USAID/Morocco and with the national and regional (AREF Doukkala Abda) levels of Morocco’s Ministry of Education (MOE). Student assessment and school survey protocols developed under the EdData II project were tailored to the Moroccan context during an adaptation workshop with national and regional MOE staff. Reading and math assessments (EGRA/EGMA) were administered to a total of 773 grade 2 and grade 3 students randomly selected from within 40 schools. The 40 participating schools had been randomly selected from within the 1400 schools located in the Doukkala Abda region. In addition to student assessments, researchers interviewed Headteachers, teachers, students, and parents; conducted classroom and school inventories; and observed reading and math lessons. The fieldwork was carried out by MOE data collection teams under the supervision of RTI’s partner ETM in May 2011.