From around the globe, this issue presents evidence-based, culturally sensitive and cost-effective practices in reading instruction and intervention in the early grades. Not only will this issue heighten awareness of the challenges faced but it will provide valuable information to help guide and improve diverse global education programs and research, especially in developing regions and for children living in poverty or disadvantage in all nations.
Presenting several experiences from small- and large-scale reading improvement programs, it:
- Focuses on low- and middle-income countries,
- Describes challenges in implementing, studying, and scaling them up,
- Informs expectations on how quickly and easily reading performance can change, and
- Provides results and evidence of effectiveness.
This article introduces a thematic journal issue on early reading interventions in low- and middle-income countries, their effectiveness, and the challenges encountered in implementing, studying, and scaling them up. The importance of evidence-based practice, cultural adaptation, documenting the effectiveness of programs for students, and ensuring teacher education and support are emphasized. There is a clear need for continued and increased research on programs and interventions for children and teachers in low- and middle-income countries.
1. Great Expectations: A Framework for Assessing and Understanding Key Factors Affecting Student Learning of Foundational Reading Skills 13
Audrey-Marie Moore, Amber Gove, Karen Tietjen
This article addresses the evolution of the underlying theories of change in global education reform efforts between 1990 and 2015, informed by the shift in focus from access to quality and learning.We review recent
data regarding how different types of donor interventions (i.e., structural or pedagogical) have contributed to improved reading outcomes and compare effect sizes over a series of intervention studies conducted from 2003 to 2015. Against this background, we present a framework for understanding how the intensity, frequency, and fidelity of the interventions as well as the enabling environments of reform affect the magnitude and rates at which reading and learning outcomes can be expected to improve. In this, we present the context for the articles
that follow, identifying the program design characteristics and types of interventions that increase the likelihood of successful expansion of the interventions commonly referred to as “scaling-up,” the ability to sustain interventions, and the value (cost effectiveness) of reading programs in low- and middle-income countries.
2. Lifewide Learning for Early Reading Development 31
Amy Jo Dowd, Elliott Friedlander, Christine Jonason, Jane Leer, Lisa Zook Sorensen, Jarrett Guajardo, Nikhit D’Sa, Clara Pava, Lauren Pisani
The authors examine the relationships between children’s reading abilities and the enabling environment for learning in the context of Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program. They conceptualize the enabling environment at a micro level, with two components: the home literacy environment, represented by reading materials/habits at home, and the community learning environment (community reading activities). Using longitudinal reading scores of 6,874 students in 424 schools in 12 sites across Africa and Asia, there was 1) a modest but consistent relationship between students’ home literacy environments and reading scores, and 2) a strong relationship between reading gains and participation in community reading activities, suggesting that interventions should consider both home and community learning environments and their differential influences on interventions across different low-resource settings.
3. Differentiation of Effect Across Systemic Literacy Programs in Rwanda, the Philippines, and Senegal 51
Rachel Christina, Elena Vinogradova
In this article, we compare three localized applications (in Rwanda, Senegal, and the Philippines) of a literacy approach for resource-lean environments and examine the factors influencing its impact in each context, considering dosage, duration, and environment. In Rwanda, a bilingual early grade literacy initiative implemented in partnership with the ministry of education included literacy standards development, training for early grade teachers, materials development, leadership support, and community-based activities. In the Philippines, a
primary grades trilingual curriculum was implemented in close collaboration with the Department of Education to strengthen its literacy component through standards development, teacher and school leader training, materials development, and awareness campaigns. Finally, in Senegal, a program was conducted supporting the YMCA’s efforts to improve local educational outcomes by training youth volunteers to mentor students at risk and by engaging families and communities.
4. Impact of Teachers’ Practices on Students’ Reading Comprehension Growth in Guatemala 67
Fernando Rubio, Leslie Rosales de V´eliz, Mar´Ã½a Cristina Perdomo Mosquera, Ventura Salanic L´opez
This article discusses an educational intervention, with a strong emphasis on reading development in a bilingual context, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala (WH), a highly disadvantaged region, where the majority of the population is of Mayan origin and primary education is poor. The majority of the students in the Western Highlands speak a Mayan language as their mother tongue, yet they are generally taught in Spanish.We assisted in the development and implementation of a bilingual/intercultural education model including teacher training
at the university level and bilingual materials development. Implementation included education for administrators and teacher coaching. For this intervention, aimed at improving reading outcomes, we report data for the first 3 years of implementation, and offer insights for systemwide interventions in low-resource areas.
5. Designing for Scale: Reflections on Rolling Out Reading Improvement in Kenya and Liberia 77
Amber Gove, Medina Korda Poole, Benjamin Piper
Since 2008, the Ministries of Education in Liberia and Kenya have undertaken transitions from small-scale pilot programs to improve reading outcomes among primary learners to the large-scale implementation of reading interventions. The effects of the pilots on learning outcomeswere significant, but questions remained regardingwhether such large gains could be sustained at scale. In this article, the authors dissect the Liberian and Kenyan experiences with implementing large-scale reading programs, documenting the critical components and conditions of the program designs that affected the likelihood of successfully transitioning from pilot to scale. They also review the design, deployment, and effectiveness of each pilot program and the scale, design,
duration, enabling conditions, and initial effectiveness results of the scaled programs in each country. The implications of these results for the design of both pilot and large-scale reading programs are discussed in light of the experiences of both the Liberian and Kenyan programs.
6. Sparking a Reading Revolution: Results of Early Literacy Interventions in Egypt and Jordan 97
Amber Gove, Aarnout Brombacher, Michelle Ward-Brent
This article examines the effects of early grade reading interventions in two Arabic-speaking contexts (Egypt and Jordan), developed in partnership with ministries of education. The interventions relied on similar research bases for improving reading instruction in Arabic. In Egypt, the results of a 166-school pilot led to the national scale-up of the Early Grade Reading Program formore than 4 million children in grades 1–3. Informed by Egypt’s experience, a demonstration effort in 43 schools led to a national rollout in Jordan’s 2,651 public primary schools and the creation of a remediation program. We reflect on the conditions that influenced the pilot and scale-up outcomes given the commitments made to “inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning
opportunities for all” under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
7. Improving Early Grade Reading Outcomes: Aprender a Ler in Mozambique 117
Shirley Burchfield, Haiyan Hua, David Noyes, Willem van de Waal
The Government of Mozambique has long struggled to improve the low reading levels of children in early grades. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2012, World Education collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Human Development to improve reading by developing a research-based reading intervention and testing it in two provinces. This article examines student reading performance from cohorts of second and third graders before and after a 1-year intervention compared to that of a control group and identifies
factors required for successful scale-up.
8. Working Toward a More Literate World: Reading Intervention Commentary 131
Maureen W. Lovett
This issue of New Directions for Child and Adult Development summarizes recent and ongoing work to establish evidence-based practices in early reading instruction and intervention and to improve access to and quality of literacy programs in low- and middle-income countries. The authors describe projects of varying sizes and goals, conducted in multiple sites in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. What is immediately striking is the commitment to documenting the efficacy and effectiveness of these programs using wherever possible the methodological standards of intervention science and education research. Often, thousands of children and hundreds of schools have been included despite the challenges involved. Data from these projects have informed plans for future programming in these countries, and results from large scale-ups have provided insight into the most important factors necessary for scale-up and sustainability. In this article, I present, in the context of an overview of the sum of these articles, my own thoughts on their importance and implications.