Aligning Learning Inputs to Global Norms (ALIGN) for Minimum Proficiency: Case Studies from Djibouti, Uzbekistan, Nigeria

he Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a commitment to ensure that by 2030, all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes (SDG 4.1). Performance on this goal is reported as the proportion of learners: “(a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex” (M. Gustafsson, 2019, p. 6). These SDG indicators are based on global research that highlights the critical contribution of foundational skills in reading and mathematics to learners’ overall academic performance (Juel, 1988; Wharton-McDonald et al., 1988; Duncan et al., 2007; Duncan & Magnuson, 2011; Watts et al., 2014; Claessens & Engel, 2013). They also apply research from health and development sectors indicating that foundational skills are essential to reducing social inequality and improving individuals’ social and economic security and well-being (OECD, 2010; UNESCO, 2016). The recent COVID-19 pandemic further underscored the importance of focusing on foundational skills. Studies show the pandemic has resulted in a 17 percent global increase in the number of ten-year-olds lacking basic skills to 70 million learners in 2021 alone (ONE Campaign, 2021). There is an urgent need to reverse this trend so every learner develops the foundational skills required to participate fully in their community’s social and economic life. That means using evidence-based approaches to identify where resources are most needed, both across countries and within a country, to address learning inequities and ensure that learners are able to demonstrate minimum proficiency levels. This panel presentation will show how the Align Learning Inputs to Global Norms (ALIGN) for Minimum Proficiency process can help address these needs. The ALIGN process is an evidence-based gap analysis that uses the Global Proficiency Framework (GPF) as a reference to determine if a country’s education system will enable learners to meet global norms in reading and mathematics. An ALIGN process focuses on four components: curriculum and standards, teaching and learning materials, teacher training, and assessment. The ALIGN process identifies potential gaps or misalignments in each of these four components and actions to address them. The ALIGN process was successfully piloted in four countries, Djibouti, Nigeria, and Uzbekistan.

Learning from Successful Early-Grade Math Programs: Lessons from the Numeracy at Scale study [CIES 2024 Presentation]

The Numeracy at Scale study was designed to identify and examine aspects of successful numeracy programs, to provide policy makers and development practitioners with evidence-based strategies for improving numeracy instruction and learning outcomes across contexts. To this end, the study team identified and analyzed six programs across five countries that had rigorous evidence of impact on numeracy learning outcomes and which were operating at scale or which showed the potential for scale in an entire region or country. In each country, the study teams carried out a mixed-methods study including quantitative observations and interviews conducted in 80 to 130 schools per country; as well as qualitative observations and interviews in ten schools per country. The Numeracy at Scale study investigated two research questions addressed in this presentation: 1) What classroom ingredients (such as teaching practices and classroom environment) lead to learning in programs that are effective at scale? 2) What methods of training and support lead to teachers adopting effective classroom practices? The programs involved in this study are based in India, Jordan, El Salvador, Madagascar and South Africa. Two of the programs are government-led. The six Numeracy at Scale programs represent a variety of designs, from providing instruction to at-risk girls via interactive software to a national-scale numeracy initiative integrated into all public primary schools. Despite their differences, these programs share a large number of common elements. This presentation will provide an overview of the common pedagogical strategies found across these successful numeracy programs, such as use of multiple representations, discussion about mathematical concepts, and targeted support for students, as well as the approaches these programs used to support the development of these practices among teachers. Drawing from qualitative data, the paper will then discuss details of how these common elements were executed differently under different program models. Both the common, key elements and “differences in the details” that are found across these programs can generate helpful guidelines and ideas for how practitioners and governments can strengthen their own numeracy professional development approaches, across different operating contexts and program designs.

Практическое руководство и обзор литературы

*** This is the Russian translation of the Science of Teaching Structured Pedagogy Guide Literature Review *** Результаты обучения в странах с низким и средним уровнем дохода являются катастрофически низкими. Задача улучшения результатов в области базовой грамотности и счета (FLN) зависит от повышения качества преподавания и поддержки принятия методических решений отдельными учителями - их десятки тысяч во многих странах. Программы структурированной педагогики показали их способность оказывать поддержку учителям в принятии таких индивидуальных педагогических решений в широком масштабе, и, что такие изменения могут оказать значительное влияние на результаты обучения.

Разработка объема и последовательности учебных программ по обучению грамоте и счету

В данном руководстве рассматриваются шаги, связанные с изучением существующей национальной учебной программы, а также разработкой ее объема и последовательности. Данный основополагающий процесс происходит до того, как будут написаны учебные пособия по обучению грамоте и счету, с тем чтобы содержание было адаптировано к конкретным условиям, отражало стандарты на страновом уровне и соответствовало потребностям развития.

Teachers Guide Math -Uzbekistan

One week sample of the 2nd grade teacher's guide and embedded student textbook for Uzbekistan under the UEEP project.

Report of Self-Administered EGRA (Malawi, Chichewa)

This report summarizes the findings of an effort to develop and validate tablet-based, self-administered assessments of Chichewa-language foundational literacy and numeracy in the early grades in Malawi. RTI International developed the two assessments, known respectively as the Self-Administered Early Grade Reading Assessment (SA-EGRA) and the Self-Administered Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (SA-EGMA), with the support and at the direction of Imagine Worldwide. The assessments are deemed “self-administered,” because children complete the assessments independently in response to instructions and stimuli embedded in the tablet-based software. However, adults typically supervise the organization and conduct of the assessment as well as the collection of individual data from the tablets for analysis.

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.

Using the GPF to create mathematics student standards in Uzbekistan [CIES 2023 Presentation]

To support the Ministry of Public Education (MoPE) in achieving its reform agenda, USAID initiated the Uzbekistan Education for Excellence Program (UEEP) to improve the quality of education and enable all students to be proficient in 21st century skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. UEEP is implemented by a Consortium of partners including RTI International, Florida State University, and Mississippi State University. The Program aims to achieve three overarching results: improved Uzbek language (UL) reading and mathematics outcomes in grades 1–4; enhanced information and communication technology (ICT) instruction for grades 1–11, and improved English as a foreign language (EFL) instruction in grades 1–11. In this presentation, we will describe the process of revising the student standards for Grades 1-4 in mathematics, led by Florida State University and UEEP math experts, with ongoing review and feedback from MoPE representatives. The revision of student standards was the first step of the country’s curricular reform, followed by the creation of TLMs and a corresponding teacher professional development package. This process consisted of several stages, beginning with comparing current MoPE standards with the GPF, student math standards from South Korea and the TIMSS framework for assessment. These three resources were chosen for specific purposes. The TIMSS framework reflected the Government of Uzbekistan’s priority to prepare children in Grade 4 to take TIMSS assessment and perform well. This framework only reflected Grade 4 learning, so it was used primarily to backwards map other standards in Grades 1-3 to ensure that all content on the TIMSS framework was adequately covered by the end of Grade 4. The GPF was the most detailed reference, and was used to map the current standards and identify gaps in the progression. However, there was concern from the Government of Uzbekistan that the GPF might be targeting skills that are too easy for children in Uzbekistan. Because of this, we also brought in the South Korea standards, which provided us with a reference from a country that is seen as a model in Uzbekistan, and we were able to use the South Korea standards to make decisions about certain skills. This process allowed us to ensure that the standards development process met national priorities (i.e. Presidential Decree on Improving Math Education, 2020), reflected best international practices in mathematics, created standards that were age appropriate and measurable, and was logically organized. We will discuss how we used a quantitative comparative analysis of Uzbekistan's existing standards for different grade levels with the GPF and South Korea standards to identify revisions needed to facilitate more alignment. The rigor of that exercise allowed us to revise and to create a set of standards that could be approved by MoPE. The rigorous student standards development process described in this presentation allowed us to create a set of standards that were approved by MoPE. These standards were the cornerstone of further reforms including creating a scope and sequence and Teacher/Learning Materials (TLMs) for Grades 1-4, currently being piloted with 10,000 teachers across Uzbekistan.

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.

Using teaching and learning materials in Uzbekistan: Lessons from observations and interviews [CIES 2023 Presentation]

The purpose of this panel presentation is to present the results of two uptake studies to understand how mathematics, Uzbek language arts, ICT, and EFL teachers in Uzbekistan are using and applying newly developed teaching and learning materials in the classroom.