Cambodia, Student Performance in Early Literacy: Baseline Report

This report presents the results of a baseline assessment of upper preschool and grade 1 student performance in pre-literacy and early grade reading. The assessment included samples drawn from three provinces in Cambodia: Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, and Battambang (control). The results will serve as a baseline for comparing the impact of early grade reading interventions being implemented in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap. The data reveal lower than expected levels of oral language ability among students in upper pre-school, especially given that Khmer is the mother tongue for nearly all students in the areas covered. For example, students responded correctly to only 3 out of 5 questions concerning a short passage that had been read to them. And in terms of their pre-literacy skills, when shown the letters they were supposed to learn in upper pre-school, students identified them with only 28% accuracy. Performance of grade 1 students on early literacy skills was also much lower than should be expected for the period during which the test was administered. For example, grade 1 students who were almost three-quarters of the way through the school year could only correctly identify letters 34% of the time and were identifying fewer than 10 letters per minute. When simpler forms of consonants and vowels were tested separately, grade 1 students performed better, but still correctly identified letters with less than 50% accuracy. Reading of familiar words in isolation or reading of a short grade-level passage were essentially non-existent.