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Focus Areas

International Education: Research, Evaluation, and Assessment

Photo Credit: USAID/Haiti Tout Timoun Ap Li (ToTAL) Applied Research Activity

Applying rigorous research, results-focused evaluations, and cutting-edge assessments to inform continuous learning and adaptation

Our global team of research, evaluation, and assessment experts develops innovative and sustainable monitoring methods; designs educational assessments; collects and analyzes high-quality, actionable data; measures the impact of education programs and capacity of education systems; and conducts ground-breaking research that promotes learning.  

As we work to adapt and improve program implementation to advance the field of international education, we build the capacity of local governmental and non-governmental partners by working collaboratively through and with them. 

View our brochure 

An image showing RTI's Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning, and Adapting (MERLA) Cycle
RTI's Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning, and Adapting (MERLA) Cycle

Adapting and Improving Program Implementation 

Data and research are used to​ ​improve program and system performance when: 

  • Data collected through M&E systems are timely and high quality, 
  • Operations research fills gaps in evidence to complement traditional M&E data, 
  • Key results and evidence from M&E and research are regularly reviewed and synthesized into program learning, and 
  • Program learning and adaptation are continuously incorporated to improve implementation, communicate results, document lessons and best practices, inform policy decisions, and ​     ​strengthen the capacity of education systems. 

International ​​​​Education Surveys and Assessments

We have developed, adapted, validated, and implemented a wide range of tools to help gather data to fill gaps in learning,​​ including: 

  • The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA)​​​​ is an oral student assessment that measures basic literacy acquisition skills, including: letter recognition, reading simple words, understanding text, and listening comprehension. Recent innovations include braille, sign-language and self-administered EGRAs.  
  • The Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA)​​​​ is an oral assessment designed to measure a student’s foundational skills in numeracy and mathematics, including number identification, quantity discrimination, addition and subtraction, word problems, and pattern extension.  
  • The Group Administered Literacy Assessment (GALA) and Group Administered Mathematics Assessment (GAMA) are orally administered, paper-and-pencil assessments that measure foundational skills similar to those measured by the EGRA and EGMA. Designed for routine education monitoring, they can be administered and scored simply, quickly, and cost-effectively at the classroom level.  
  • Learning through Play (LtP) tools are designed to measure support for self-sustaining effortless engagement in the classroom (​​PLAY Toolkit), as well as the impact of LtP interventions, including classroom observations and teacher and student interviews.  
  • The Survey of Student Experiences of School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) assesses the extent to which students ages 8–18 experience all forms of SRGBV, using face-to-face interviews or audio and computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI).​​  
  • The Local Education Monitoring Approach (LEMA)​​ is a simple and sustainable school monitoring approach for local governments using binary indicators and small school sample sizes to quickly collect and process local data on school and student performance.  
  • ​​​Social-emotional learning (SEL) assessments measure executive function and culturally relevant SEL competencies for learning and healthy development in pre-primary and primary school.  
  • Early childhood development assessments measure child development and early learning, including expressive language and emergent literacy and numeracy. We have experience with a range of ECE tools, including IDELA, ​​​​MELQO instruments, and Teach ECE, among others. 
  • Disability screening tools. We use existing open-source and clinically validated tools on mobile devices to screen children for potential sensory, cognitive, or learning disabilities.  

Project Highlights

The Jordan RAMP program helps Jordan’s Ministry of Education improve the reading and mathematics skills of students in kindergarten through grade 3.

Educational Measurement in Jordan (USAID RAMP, 2015–2023)

Beginning with national EGRA and EGMA surveys and a randomized control trial pilot evaluation, RTI has a long history of educational measurement in Jordan. Based on the evidence from these activities, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has taken RTI’s intervention to national scale as part of the USAID-funded Early Grade Reading and Mathematics Initiative (RAMP). Most recently, RTI developed a biannual, nationally representative school monitoring approach (based on LEMA), which has been fully adopted by the MoE.

Photo by Daniel Emanuel for USAID Jifunze Uelewe Project

Operational and Implementation Research in Tanzania (USAID Jifunze Uelewe, 2021–2025)

Actionable data from RTI-led national EGRA and EGMA surveys in Tanzania have been used to inform nationwide teacher and curriculum reforms. Under the USAID-funded Jifunze Uelewe program, RTI is using a “Feedback School” approach to test and evaluate implementation and research activities prior to scaling. In combination with operational research studies, these efforts have spurred continuous data-driven adjustments in training activities, learning support materials, and government-provided pedagogic support to teachers in more than 3,000 schools in five regions.

Classroom-based Assessments in the Philippines (USAID ABC+: Advancing Basic Education, 2019–2024)

As a response to COVID-related school closures, RTI designed the Comprehensive Rapid Literacy Assessment (CRLA) for teachers to classify learners according to reading profiles and identify those in need of additional support. The success of the approach led the Philippines’ Department of Education to scale up the CRLA beyond project regions. ABC+ has also incorporated rigorous quantitative evaluations of pilot initiatives, supplemented with in-depth qualitative research, to inform data-driven adaptations in the program’s implementation approach.

Students with teachers

Mixed-Methods Research (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Learning at Scale, 2019–2023)

RTI leads a study that examines 14 of the most effective, large-scale early grade reading and mathematics programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We developed quantitative and qualitative data collection instruments—used along with secondary reviews of program data—to explore what makes these programs successful. The findings are being used to inform and guide policy makers on the instructional practice, instructional support, and system support needed for successfully improving learning outcomes at scale across LMICs.

Child playing with toys
Photo Credit: Thomas Cristofoletti for RTI International

External Evaluation of Learning Through Play (LtP) Interventions (LEGO Foundation’s Play Accelerator 2019–2025)

RTI serves as the research partner and external evaluator for five intervention programs focused on improving LtP pedagogies in five countries (Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Vietnam). We have conducted longitudinal, quasi-experimental impact evaluations for each program and used the findings to highlight key areas for improvement and recommendations for partners to incorporate into their planning and implementation. We also lead the initiative’s community of practice, which is designed around disseminating research and supporting partners to improve their evidence-based programming.