Thursday, August 20, 2015

Early Grade Learning Assessment in the North Pacific

Getting the Basics Right: Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific




The Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific pilot project was designed to develop and trial new inputs in learning, assessment, teacher development, and data management to improve the quality of primary education in the northern Pacific Micronesian nations of the RMI, the FSM, and to evaluate student assessment system in Palau. The project operated in the RMI in five selected schools on Majuro, and in the FSM, the project worked with all six schools of Kosrae State and two selected schools of Pohnpei State. The QPENP was funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction managed by the Asian Development Bank. The Development Strategists International Consulting (DSIC) implemented the project.


What is the Early Grade Learning Assessment (EGLA) and how does it work?

The EGLA is a formative assessment tool that provides a detailed picture of student performance levels in reading and mathematics. EGLA can be used for multiple purposes—tailored teacher professional development, identifying appropriate learning resources, and building accountability. The EGLA was developed for the FSM and the RMI in a collaborative manner alongside education authorities of each project site, with intensive capacity building, piloting, analysis, and extensive trials. 



Unlike traditional standardized assess- ments, which provide overall information, the EGLA uses a representative sample of students to provide detailed information on the specific learning components thatmust be mastered in order to develop true competency in numeracy and literacy. The EGLA provides a clear picture of areas of strength and areas of challenge, allowing education authorities to structure targeted professional development for teachers with classroom-based resources that address students’ specific weaknesses. The results of the EGLA inform ministries and departments of education about overall system performance, allow them to establish priorities for professional development programs, and monitor the outcomes at the individual school and classroom level.

The EGLA involves teams of trained assessors going out to classrooms and conducting one-on-one interviews with a preselected random sample of students from the two targeted grades, Grade 3 and Grade 5. Each student who participates undergoes four separate assessments: literacy in the first language (L1), numeracy in L1, literacy in English, and numeracy in English. The interviewer, in a welcoming manner, guides the student through a set of specific tasks, by asking students to show what they can do on each task in the areas of numeracy, reading and writing. Linkages between numeracy and literacy were also incorporated in the assessments, so that students applied knowledge and strategies to word problems or number stories in familiar contexts, and could demonstrate higher thinking skills such as theapplicationofaconceptordrawinga conclusion.


A short initial interview of the student’s world outside of the classroom is also conducted. This reveals the child’s home context, and aspects of the child’s own perceptions about schooling. These included questions such as: What is the main home language, and does the child have access to reading materials in their first language or in English? Does the child write stories in their first language or English at home? Is there a family member who provides assistance with reading or math homework? Is there a TV in the home? Are there devices like calculators in the home? 

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