Evaluating the impact of an accelerated reading program (FasterReading) on learning outcomes of overage students in early childhood education classrooms in Liberia

Last registered on January 14, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Evaluating the impact of an accelerated reading program (FasterReading) on learning outcomes of overage students in early childhood education classrooms in Liberia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007954
Initial registration date
January 14, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 14, 2022, 2:03 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
IDinsight

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
IDinsight
PI Affiliation
IDinsight
PI Affiliation
IDinsight
PI Affiliation
Rising Academy Network

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-11-30
End date
2022-08-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We are partnering with Rising Academy Network (RAN) in Liberia to evaluate the impact of an accelerated reading program on learning outcomes of overage students in early childhood education (ECE) classrooms. In Liberia, a majority of primary and pre-primary students are older than the mandated age for their grade. To mitigate over-age enrollment in ECE classrooms, RAN has developed the FasterReading curriculum to prepare ECE students for enrollment into age-appropriate grades. We are conducting a randomized controlled trial of this new curriculum from November 2021 to July 2022. 74 RAN-managed government schools with ECE classrooms were randomized to the FasterReading curriculum (37 schools) or to the standard curriculum (37 schools). A sample of students in treatment and control schools will be assessed on foundational literacy skills at baseline and at endline. The results of this research will be used by RAN to inform scale-up decisions, and will be shared with government partners to inform ECE programming across the region.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Brewer, Charles et al. 2022. "Evaluating the impact of an accelerated reading program (FasterReading) on learning outcomes of overage students in early childhood education classrooms in Liberia." AEA RCT Registry. January 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7954
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
RAN is testing the use of FasterReading to prepare overage ECE students for enrollment into age-appropriate grades. FasterReading (FR) is an accelerated learning program that groups students by ability level and focuses on building foundational literacy skills. The FR curriculum is designed to equip students with the foundational skills they need, regardless of their starting point. Students progress systematically through the levels of reading proficiency from the most foundational skills, with student materials that help them apply their new knowledge at each stage. RAN’s diagnostic assessment tools ensure students start at the most appropriate level for their learning needs and progress to the next level only when they are ready. Grouping students by ability in this way is designed to help teachers target their instruction to student needs and accommodates different rates of student learning. The program will be implemented over 20 weeks from January to July 2022.
Intervention Start Date
2022-01-17
Intervention End Date
2022-07-08

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Student reading proficiency
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Reading proficiency will be measured using a short reading assessment modeled off of the ASER assessment. Based on this assessment, students will be assigned scores corresponding to their reading level (Beginner, Letter, Word, etc.).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Retention, attendance
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Retention data will be compiled from class registers. Attendance data will be collected from spot-checks conducted by RAN's School Performance Managers.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
IDinsight will estimate the impact of the FR program through a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 74 out of 95 schools managed by RAN in Liberia. The estimated program impact will be measured through a comparison of the treatment group, which consists of schools where the FR program was provided to overage ECE students, relative to the control group, which consists of schools where the FR program was not provided to overage ECE students.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We randomized schools into treatment and control groups. Randomization was stratified on 3 observables- (i) school-average baseline FR level of overage ECE students; (ii) overage ECE student-teacher ratio; and (iii) year that RAN took over the school. These stratification variables were combined into an index using principal components analysis, and 18 strata were created (15 strata of 4 and 3 strata of 5) based on similarity in PCA scores. Within each strata, 2 schools were randomly assigned to treatment and 2 to control.
Randomization Unit
Randomization occurred at the school level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
74 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,370 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
37 treatment schools, 37 control schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With 74 schools and approximately 1,370 students in our sample, our study is powered to detect effect sizes of approximately 0.23 SD. The parameters for these power calculations include the following: power = 80%, statistical significance level = 5%, 74 clusters (37 control schools, 37 treatment schools), 19 students per cluster (slightly lower than our target of 20 students per cluster since some schools have fewer than 20 overage ECE students), intracluster correlation = 0.12 (which is estimated from previous test score data in RAN's Liberia schools), and correlation between baseline and endline scores of 0.5 (a conservative estimate based on previous IDinsight education studies).
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Liberia – Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation Institutional Review Board (UL-PIRE IRB)
IRB Approval Date
2021-11-12
IRB Approval Number
FWA00004853
Analysis Plan

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