The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) was developed in 2006 to be a simple, low-cost, oral assessment of a child’s fundamental reading skills. Since its inception, EGRA has been used in over 70 countries and a multitude of languages to evaluate education systems and reading interventions. EGRA’s success also inspired the development of the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA).
Why would we change something that’s worked so well for so long?
While EGRA and EGMA are valuable tools to evaluate early reading and mathematics skills, it is still rather effort intensive and not suitable for remote administration, e.g., during school closures. The nature of the 1:1 adult to child oral assessment format means that training and mobilizing assessors is a major undertaking for large evaluation efforts.
Imagine Worldwide had another idea
Because Imagine Worldwide uses a unique approach to child-directed, tech-enabled learning in developing contexts, they enlisted RTI to try to adapt this concept to assessment. Imagine delivers instruction to students via solar-powered tablets and changes the role of adult facilitators to be primarily supportive. If reading and mathematics assessments could be suitably adapted to this format, while still retaining rigor, assessment costs could be driven down to allow for funding to be re-routed to intervention. A tech-enabled self-assessment would also allow for broader and more frequent low-stakes assessments of students’ reading and numeracy skills for a variety of purposes.
Introducing the Self-Administered EGRA And EGMA (SA-EGRA/ SA-EGMA)
In the summer of 2022, with funding from the Jacobs Foundation and Imagine Worldwide, RTI took on the challenge of creating a self-directed assessment of early grade literacy and mathematics. Starting in Ghana using English, RTI’s team of experts got to work developing, user-testing, field-testing, and then pilot-testing a self-administered early grade reading and math assessment (SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA). Through repeated testing, adaptation, and rigorous statistical and psychometric analysis, RTI was able to deliver a Ghanaian-specific English SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA to Imagine Worldwide by December 16, 2022. Since then, Imagine Worldwide and RTI have also developed an English language SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA for Sierra Leone and Liberia. The team is currently adapting the assessment in Chichewa for Malawi, with plans for a French version later this year.
What’s in it?
The self-administered instruments include a voice actor who reads aloud the prompts to guide each child through their assessment. The software, based on RTI’s open-source Tangerine platform, monitors and times the child’s progress and scores their answers on the back end. This allows for remote assessment or for a room of children to be assessed at the same time, with only one or two adults present to assist the child in case of technical difficulties.
The child hears a sound read aloud and is asked to select the letter that makes that sound from five options.
The child is asked to spell a word that is read to them and used in a sentence. They are given a keyboard on the screen with which to type.
The child is read two sentences: one “good” and the other “bad”. The child is asked to choose the sentence that is true and makes sense (good), while ignoring the sentence that is nonsense or incorrect (bad).
The child is given a short story and asked to read it aloud: quickly and quietly. When they are finished, they tap the next arrow to move the page.
Oral Reading Comprehension
The child is asked comprehension questions about the story they just read. They are asked to choose the correct answer from four options.
Silent Reading & Comprehension
The child is presented another story to read, this time silently to themselves. Then they are asked comprehension questions about the story they just read. They are asked to choose the correct answer from four options.
The child is read a series of four words and asked to select the one “they know best”. They are read a list of three nonsense words and one real word in various order.
The child hears a number read aloud and is asked to type the number. They are presented a number-line keyboard for this task.
The child is presented with three numbers and asked to select the largest.
The child is presented a number pattern with three numbers and one blank space somewhere in the pattern. The child is asked to complete the pattern by selecting which number goes in the blank space. They are presented a number-line keyboard for this task.
Level 1 Addition
The child is presented with several simple addition problems and asked to solve without using pencil and paper. They are presented a number-line keyboard to type in their answer.
Level 2 Addition
The child is presented with several two-digit addition problems and asked to solve. They are given the option to use pencil and paper. They are presented a number-line keyboard to type in their answer.
A Bubble Pop Game
A silly “brain break” game that sends bubbles floating on the screen and encourages the child to tap the bubbles to pop them!
Level 1 Subtraction
The child is presented with several simple subtraction problems and asked to solve without using pencil and paper. They are presented a number-line keyboard to type in their answer.
Level 2 Subtraction
The child is presented with several two-digit subtraction problems and asked to solve. They are given the option to use pencil and paper. They are presented a number-line keyboard to type in their answer.
The child is read aloud simple word problems and asked to solve. They are presented a number-line keyboard to type in their answer.
What can the SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA do?
- The SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA are both reliable and internally consistent instruments for measuring early literacy and numeracy.
- These assessments are currently adapted for English language in Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
- Concurrent validity of the SA-EGRA to the Standard EGRA format is good.
- Concurrent validity of the SA-EGMA to the Standard EGMA format is good but may be a better fit for emerging learners.
- The format of the spelling and numeracy subtasks gives great insight into exactly what concepts children might be struggling with, based on their incorrect answers. The ability to record and analyze also incorrect answers in this self-assessment format opens new avenues for research and targeted remediation for particular concepts easily and precisely.
What can’t the SA-EGRA and SA-EGMA do (yet)?
- The self-assessment format cannot differentiate the time it takes a child to know the correct answer with how long it takes them to type it in. Because of this, we do not recommend using this tool to assess oral reading fluency, or mathematic automaticity.
- The SA-EGRA currently lacks sufficient information to report on or track non-readers, as the multiple-choice format allows for random-chance selection of the correct answer.
Come check it out!
Here is a quick video demonstration of the Ghanaian tool:
And the .apk files for the three English assessments can be found here: https://bit.ly/SA-EGRA-EGMA