International Education Projects: Liberia

Liberia Teacher Training Program II (2010–2015)

Client/Agency

United States Agency for International Development

Description

In a subcontract through FHI360, we are helping the Liberian Ministry of Education comprehensively address the needs of the teacher training and support system for basic education. We are developing the national standards-based model for reading and mathematics instruction in grades 1-3, as well as the curriculum, textbooks, teaching and learning materials, tests, and continuous assessments.

Program activities include overseeing the roll-out of training and support for practicing teachers in approximately 2,000 schools across Liberia, leading workshops in instruction and assessment methods, and building the capacity of national education ministry staff to conduct early grade reading and math assessments to measure the impact on student learning of the new instructional models.

Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth (CESLY) (2009-2011)

Client/Agency

United States Agency for International Development

Description

Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth assisted Liberian youth in developing the skills and attitudes necessary to progress in the conventional academic and employment system, maintain healthy lifestyles, participate in their communities, and access education.

As a subcontractor to Education Development Center, RTI was tasked with administering Early Grade Reading and Math Assessments to monitor students' progress in literacy and numeracy. Information gathered through these assessments was used for overall monitoring of the project's success and for improving basic literacy and numeracy among youth through traditional formal education programs and non-formal education programs for out-of-school youth.

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The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Plus: Liberia Program (2008-2011)

Client/Agency

United States Agency for International Development

Description

Beginning in 2008, following a World Bank-funded EGRA in Liberia, RTI and the Liberian Education Trust developed and introduced teaching and learning materials, teacher training and support, classroom-based assessment, and strategies to improve time on task. The evidence-based approach was tested in grades 2 and 3 under a rigorously designed randomized controlled trial (RCT).

After 18 months, students in the "full" treatment group outperformed their peers in all reading skills, nearly tripling the gains made by the control group in oral reading fluency and reading comprehension. The full treatment group also increased sevenfold their fluency in reading non-words (e.g., "wub" in English). EGRA: Plus had a particularly large impact on improving children's decoding—the ability to break new words into sounds and link them together—a key to unlock fluency and comprehension. The full treatment group improved in reading fluency four-and-a-half times faster and in reading comprehension five times faster than the control group, accelerating children's learning at the equivalent of three years of school in one year. The program is expanding to 1,600 schools under the USAID-supported Liberia Teacher Training Program.

Results

At the final student assessment in June 2010, RTI found that after one-and-a-half years of intervention students in the full treatment group (grades 2 and 3 combined) outperformed their peers in all reading skills:

  • The average student in the full treatment group had increased their oral reading fluency and reading comprehension at four times the rate of students in the control group.
  • More than 40% of students in the full treatment group read a passage with 80%–100% comprehension, compared to less than 20% of students in the control group.
  • The average student in the full treatment group also improved in nonsense word fluency—sounding out invented words that resemble English words—12 times as fast as the control group, indicating that EGRA Plus had a particularly large impact on improving children's decoding skills, which is a key intermediate step to unlocking fluency and comprehension.


The overall effect size of the full intervention was a standard deviation of 0.8, considered large for social science projects. This effect was gender, age, and grade neutral.

The light treatment group did not significantly outperform the control group, indicating that even though assessment can focus teachers on the importance of reading, accountability alone did not improve the teaching and learning process.

Based on the remarkable success of EGRA Plus: Liberia, RTI will support the Ministry of Education to scale up the intervention to nearly 2000 schools in nine counties as an implementing partner on the USAID Liberia Teacher Training Program 2.

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