Using opportunity to learn and early grade reading fluency to measure school effectiveness in Woliso, Ethiopia
In 2008, the Educational Quality Improvement Program 2 (EQUIP2), in partnership with Save the Children, conducted a study of school effectiveness in Ethiopia. Data were collected from 24 schools (15 community and 9 government schools) in Woliso, Dendi, Goro, and Bacho, four adjoining districts located about two hours southeast of Addis Ababa in the Oromo Region. All of the community schools and three of the government schools included in the study were supported under a Save the Children project. The study aimed to determine whether schools provide adequate opportunities to learn and whether teachers and students use those opportunities to ensure that children learn to read fluently in the language of instruction (Afan Oromo) by Grade 3.
The study found that few children at the start of Grade 3 had learned to read fluently enough to ensure comprehension. Thirty-six percent of the students could not read a single word of either Grade 2 or 3 level text. Only 15 percent of the students could read at a rate of 40 words per minute (wpm) or faster, a rate that may be fluent enough to ensure comprehension. Though most of the students read below a desirable level for Grade 3, almost all students were found to have adequate pre-literacy skills (knowing letters and the ability to properly orient themselves in relation to text). Differences in reading fluency between girls and boys were not pronounced, but one sub-group of children (boys who reported working outside their home for money) had reading fluency levels 23 percent below those who did not work to earn money. We also found that the percentage of Grade 3 children able to read fluently varied considerably across schools. The biggest difference across schools was in the percentage of students who could not read at all, ranging from no students in that category to 75 percent of students not being able to read a single word.