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Rolling-Out and Scaling-Up: The Insiders’ View of Reading Reform

Thu, March 29, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 2nd Floor, Don Diego 1 Section C

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


Over the past decade, as an increasing number of international student assessments (TIMMS, PIRLS, ASER, UWEZO, EGRA, EGMA) have revealed disappointing student learning outcomes, the global development community has focused its attention and resources on improving learning and educational quality. Reading has been at the core of these efforts with a focus on the critical early years of primary schooling. Early grade reading (EGR) provides the foundation for continuous learning and future schooling; research has shown that students who fail to acquire basic reading skills by grade 3 are more likely to fall behind, fail or drop out of school. Numerous countries around the world have implemented EGR pilot programs and experimented with interventions to improve EGR teaching-learning methods and materials on a relatively small scale. As these activities have produced positive—sometimes dramatic—results in students’ reading skills, many ministries of education have initiated regional or national scale-up of reading programs.

The task these ministries face can be daunting. Implementing a national EGR program generally requires both new policy and investment frameworks, and —often more importantly—introduction of new operations and procedures to ensure the quality of service provision. Even if limited to pedagogical subsystems, reading reform programs touch many key parts of the education system—curriculum development, teacher professional development, inspection and supervision, textbook publication/printing, and planning and assessment—which will have to align their operations (and budgets) so that schools, teachers and student are supplied with the information, resources, training and materials needed for optimal performance. Not infrequently, reading reform efforts are stymied not only by the lack of technical capacity and resources, but by stakeholder—ministry personnel, teachers, parents—resistance to the changes.

This panel will explore from an insider’s perspective the process of introducing and implementing national early grade reading programs. Representatives from ministries of education in Afghanistan, Morocco, Mozambique and Nigeria, responsible for leading EGR reforms will describe how they are orchestrating the national scale-up of the EGR program, the challenges they face, and how they are dealing with them. The panelists will provide a brief description of their national EGR program and respond to the following questions:

• What is your major consideration when leading a EGR reform effort?
• How do you decide what reforms or changes in the delivery system to take on first?
• How have you mobilized ministry of education staff—at all levels, including teachers-- to embrace and implement the reading program?
• What steps have you taken to inform other stakeholders and gain public support?
• How have you dealt with resistance to or lack of take-up of the EGR program?
• What “hardspots” have you encountered?
• Have you been satisfied with the pace of change?
• Why will this reform effort succeed?
• What could facilitate the reform process?

The panel will spend 30 minutes in introduction and brief presentations, followed by a 30-minute panelist interview and exchange. The remaining 30 minutes will be used for participant Q&A.

Betts, J. R., Zau, A. C., & Koedel, C. (2010). Lessons in reading reform: Finding what works. Public Policy Instit. of CA.

Crouch, L & deStefano, J. (2017). Doing reform differently: Combining rigor and practicality in implementation and evaluation of system reforms. North Carolina: Research Triangle Institute.

International Literacy Association (2016). Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform. White Paper.

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