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Early Grade Reading Assessment workshop

(April 2010) RTI International, the International Reading Association (IRA), USAID and the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) sponsored a workshop, All children reading by 2015: From assessment to action, 12–14 April in Washington DC, USA. The goal of the workshop was to bring together the best research and experience to assist countries in their push to have all children reading by the end of Grade 2, as per the new FTI Indicative Framework goals.

When taught in their local language, students readily transfer literacy skills to official languages of education, acquiring essential tools for lifelong learning. When taught in their local language, students readily transfer literacy skills to official languages of education, acquiring essential tools for lifelong learning.

The FTI Indicative Framework is based on EFA goals and Millennium Development Goals for universal access to quality education. RTI’s Early Grade Reading Assessment tool was a central feature of the workshop, as participants discussed its outcomes and follow-up measures to be taken.

Education officials from Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guatemala, Kenya, Liberia, Mali and Nicaragua took part in the workshop. Representatives of agencies such as USAID, the World Bank, IRA, RTI and the Center for Applied Linguistics also participated. Barbara Trudell, Director of Academic Affairs for SIL Africa Area, was invited to speak on issues of language of instruction. Other invited experts gave presentations on teachers’ professional development, reading materials, logistics and support, technology strategies and community mobilization.

Early Grade Reading Assessment

Primary education programs that begin in the mother tongue help students gain literacy and numeracy skills more quickly. Primary education programs that begin in the mother tongue help students gain literacy and numeracy skills more quickly.

As donor organizations have responded to imperatives regarding primary education in the developing world, they have so far focused primarily on issues of access. Now, with more children in school than ever, donors are turning to the question of education quality: are children learning as they should be? The desire to answer that question has motivated assessment initiatives across the world, most notably the Early Grade Reading Assessment tool developed by RTI.

The EGRA tool is administered by trained evaluators to individual children in the early grades of primary school, and includes evaluations of reading fluency, letter recognition, and reading comprehension. This instrument is very effective in raising awareness among countries and communities regarding the importance of achievement in the early grades. EGRA has been applied in at least 36 countries around the world.

EGRA has documented serious problems with reading performance among school-aged populations in a number of countries. One reason for this poor performance is that many children do not speak the language of instruction used in school. This mismatch between children’s language fluency and the language of instruction is increasingly recognized as detrimental to national education goals. The outcomes of this workshop will be seen as RTI and other agencies collaborate with participant governments in enhancing the effectiveness of their education systems—including evaluating their language of instruction policies.

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