Is It Possible to Improve Learning at Scale? Reflections on the Process of Identifying Large-Scale Successful Education Interventions

Improving learning outcomes at scale is hard. That may seem obvious, but only recently have policymakers and donors become aware of just how dire—and broad—the learning crisis is. Most of their efforts to improve learning have been pilot programs, and although in some cases it has been possible to improve outcomes at this small scale, it is an entirely different challenge at scale, which can involve thousands of schools—the level at which change must happen to fix the crisis.

Setting Reading Benchmarks - Evidence from India [CIES 2019 Presentation]

This presentation is based on an activity that was designed to apply lessons learned and best practices from the recent EGRA Benchmarks and Standards Research Report (RTI International, 2018) to a five-language benchmarking activity for early grade reading in India.

2018 Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Assessment

This report summarizes the findings of the 2018 Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP) Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Assessment, measuring impact between 2017 and 2018. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK Aid have funded RAMP as a national effort designed to improve the reading and mathematics skills and performance of students in Jordan from kindergarten 2 through grade 3 (K2–G3). This five-year program began on January 1, 2015, and is scheduled to end on December 31, 2019. Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah formally launched RAMP as part of the broader Ministry of Education (MoE) initiative to improve education. The Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International leads implementation with its partners: Queen Rania Teacher’s Academy, ChangeAgent for Arab Development and Education Reform, We Love Reading, The Kaizen Company, Mercy Corps, Dajani Consulting, and Prodigy Consulting. The RAMP team and the MOE conducted a Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) assessment in November 2018. Approximately 200 assessors (most of whom were MOE supervisors) were trained to collect reading and mathematics performance data across all 42 field directorates in the kingdom. For this activity, an approach was used at the school level, which led to a final sample of more than 39,000 Grade 2 and Grade 3 students in 2,076 schools. Performance comparisons made on three key indicators (reading comprehension, oral reading fluency, and mathematics) provides illustrative evidence of the gains made by RAMP schools over one school year. Large gains were seen on reading comprehension with the percent of students reaching the comprehension benchmark, increasing from 43% in 2017 to 55% in 2018. Gains in terms of oral reading fluency increased from 13% in 2017 to 19% in 2018. The smallest gains were in terms of mathematics (where the percent of students reaching the benchmark improved only slightly from 28% in 2017 to 30% in 2018).

Using EGRA data for differentiated instruction: Learning profiles and instructional needs in Uganda

Presentation delivered at CIES2017 (Atlanta). A challenge of large-scale education research projects in international development is determining the most appropriate way to effectively report findings for a wide variety of audiences (e.g., researchers, ministry officials, donors, and other relevant stakeholders). It is important to consider technical rigor and accessibility, while ultimately providing results that can be used to inform policy and instruction. Using Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) data from Uganda in two languages, we are replicating an approach for categorizing students into learning profiles, which are directly tied to their particular instructional needs. We have conducted this analysis previously with data from Indonesia. We had conceptualized on the framework to be used across different context This study reports on the efficacy of using the same method with this sample with Luganda speakers. We divided students into five learning profiles based on their reading ability (Next Grade Ready, Fluent, Instructional, Beginner, and Nonreader) and then examined the relationship among these profiles and their reading skills on a variety of EGRA subtasks to determine the instructional need required to promote students from one profile to the next. Our learner profile method has been used with data in two countries and two languages. EGRA has been used in over 70 countries and in more than 100 languages. This study is an initial attempt to explore the value in this method.

Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) Pilot Activities in Amhara and Tigray, Ethiopia: Final Report

This report summarizes main findings and lessons learned from the piloting of the lot quality assurance sampling (LQAS) methodology in the education sector in Ethiopia. It also suggests next steps for applying the LQAS methodology more broadly for education program monitoring.

An Addition to the Toolbox for Measuring Literacy Skills of the Youngest Students: The Group Administered Literacy Assessment (GALA)

The GALA was designed to maximize the benefits of a group-administered instrument, while also taking advantage of lessons learned from the individually administered Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). It limits administration time; can be administered with minimal training; has a simplified scoring system; is based on a previously validated tool; assesses a full range of early grade literacy skills; does not rely on passage reading; and can be adapted for new contexts and languages.

Indonesia 2014: The National Early Grade Reading Assessment and Snapshot of School Management Effectiveness Survey: Report of Findings

In partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC), the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Indonesia), RTI International administered the two surveys to 4,812 grade 2 students, equally divided between boys and girls and equally allocated across the four proposed “regions” of (1) Sumatra and its adjacent islands; (2) Java and Bali; (3) Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and its adjacent islands; and (4) the “MNP” region, consisting of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur [NTT]), West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat [NTB]), and Papua islands (Eastern Region).

Low cost private schools for the poor: What public policy is appropriate?

Recent attention has focused on the existence of non-government schools that cater to children from low-income families. These schools can now be found in the majority of developing countries, many of which have a prescribed public policy to provide free public education. This raises the question, why would a low-income family choose to send a child to a fee-paying school if a place in a free school were available? This paper will report on case studies of low-fee schools in Jamaica, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Indonesia and Pakistan and will assess the reasons for their increased demand. In the past, some have argued that development assistance agencies should limit assistance to public school sector. Others have argued that the public sector is inadequate and in many ways has failed in its ambitions to provide a minimum quality for every child. This paper will consider what public policy should be toward low-cost private schools, including the policy of development assistance agencies which seek to assist low and middle income countries as well as the appropriate public policy for national and local governments. The paper will conclude with several recommendations. One recommendation is that although children from low-income families attend non-government schools, they continue to be citizens; hence they should not be excluded from poverty assistance strategies. A second recommendation is to expand government statistical functions so that non-government schools are regularly included in the calculations of enrollment rates. Lastly, the paper does not recommend voucher or other program of publically financed school choice on the grounds that the public sector should remain the main conduit for public schooling. It does, however, raise questions as to the limits of the public sector in delivering high quality schooling and whether these limits should be more candidly acknowledged.

Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) Pilot in Tanzania: Final Report

This final report summarizes main findings and lessons learned from the piloting of lot quality assurance sampling (LQAS) in the education sector in Tanzania. It also suggests next steps for applying LQAS more broadly for education program monitoring.

National Early Grade Literacy and Numeracy Survey Jordan: Intervention Impact Analysis Report in Arabic

This report, translated in Arabic, discusses the impact and results of the pilot intervention that was implemented during the 2013-2014 school year across 43 schools reaching more than 400 teachers and approximately 12,000 students in Jordan.