DESCRIPTION OF THE EGRS I
This EGRS I was set up as a randomized control trial. The EGRS included three different interventions, all aimed at improving early-grade reading in Setswana. These three interventions were implemented with the teachers of a cohort of learners in Grade 1 in 2015, the teachers of the same cohort of learners in Grade 2 in 2016, and the first two interventions were extended to the teachers of the same learners again in Grade 3 in 2017.
Treatment 1: Training, scripted lessons, graded readers
Treatments 1 and 2 aimed to apply the same set of instructional practices in the teaching of home language literacy in grade 1, 2 and 3 classrooms working in one grade at a time. Both treatments therefore provided teachers with clearly scripted lesson plans, which were aligned to the curriculum as specified in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for home language literacy in the Foundation Phase. The lesson plans incorporated the use of learning support materials including the government-provided workbooks as well as certain additional materials (graded reading booklets, flash cards, posters, etc.), which were provided through the EGRS. The graded reading booklets provided a key resource for the teacher to use in group-guided reading and individual work so as to facilitate reading practice at an appropriate pace and sequence of progression.
Treatment 1 trained the teachers on how to use the lesson plans and accompanying materials through central training sessions, each lasting two days, and occurring twice yearly.
Treatment 2: Reading Coaches, scripted lessons, graded readers
Exactly the same set of instructional materials (scripted lesson plans, graded reading booklets and other materials) were provided to Treatment 2 schools. However, instead of central training sessions, one day training/orientation was provided at the start of each term, accompanied by ongoing support to teachers consisting of regular (monthly) on-school coaching from specialist “reading coaches” visits. In addition to these on-site visits, there were occasional needs-based workshops with the coach and a small cluster of nearby Treatment 2 schools.
Treatment 3: Parental involvement
Treatment 3 was designed to promote parental involvement to support their children’s reading progress. At each of the 50 schools in this treatment arm a Community Reading Coach (CRC) was recruited. The CRC was identified through communication with the school principal who recommended a suitably qualified, but available person in the community. The CRCs attended a one-day training session facilitated by the service provider (Class Act) at the start of each school term (quarterly). The CRCs were trained to deliver weekly training sessions for Grade 1 parents at their respective schools. A total of 30 sessions were scheduled for each year covering a total of 10 topics. The parental involvement intervention arm was prematurely ended in 2016, after two years of implementation working first with Grade 1 parents and then Grade 2 parents. The parents of Grade 3 learners were not part of the intervention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE RSP
The RSP was set up as a randomized control trial, with six focus areas.
1. Quarterly ‘just in time’ training for teachers (from 263 schools) on the implementations of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and lesson plans (all 263 schools)
2. The provision of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) packages (all 263 schools).
3. The provision of 14 literacy coaches to 140 schools to offer classroom-based support to Foundation Phase teachers (Coaching in 140 schools)
4. The development of the leadership capacity of principals/deputies and Head of Departments (HODs) to promote a culture of reading in their schools (SMT training in 65 schools)
5. Through the DBE, Classroom libraries are provided to 98 schools
The RSP specifically aims to: improve subject matter knowledge; promote more effective pedagogic practices; improve in-class time management; increase effective use of LTSM; and foster a school environment to support teachers’ ability to implement the full curriculum and facilitate successful teaching and learning.
INTERACTIONS BETWEEN EGRS I AND RSP
In order to set up research questions and analyses accurately, it is helpful to understand how the EGRS and RSP interventions may interact and how they compare, in three areas.
1) Teacher Training
Teacher training for EGRS I focused on one language (Setswana) and trained one grade of teachers each year, for one year (Grade 1, then Grade 2, then Grade 3). RSP trained all three groups of teachers at the same time for two years in both Setswana and English. We may expect interactions between the two interventions in that some teachers may have received training in Setswana instructions under both programs.
Coaches used in the EGRS program were not reemployed under RSP. Thus, we expect interactions to be limited in the coaching intervention of the two programs. It is possible that teachers who received coaching under EGRS may have been more experienced in getting feedback and may have benefited more from the RSP coaching as a result.
3) Learner and Teacher Support Materials
These materials were provided under both programs. In EGRS they were only provided for Setswana while the availability of EFAL materials to teachers was not provided and it is not clear what materials were used. In RSP materials were provided for both Setswana and EFAL. These included structured lesson plans, readers and other supporting LTSM. It is possible that the EGRS teachers were better prepared for LTSM use and further leveraged this when receiving RSP materials for both languages.
3.2. PRIMARY OUTCOMES
The primary outcome of interest is reading proficiency in Setswana home language (HL) and English first additional language (EFAL). For reading proficiency we will measure all the intermediate steps towards comprehension: letter recognition, phonetic awareness, word recognition and reading, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading with comprehension. These tests are adapted from standard tests that have already been developed for the English First Additional language and Setswana language, such as the Early-Grade-Reading-Assessment (EGRA), but also newly developed and extensively piloted reading tasks. As our main outcome indicator, we will construct an aggregate indicator of learning proficiency, using principal component analysis.