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Gender Patterns in Mathematics Achievement in the Early Years: Results from the Tayari Early Childhood Development Program in Kenya

Tue, April 16, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Seacliff B

Proposal

The purpose of this presentation is to explore girls' and boys' achievement on mathematical tasks in pre-primary in Kenya. The data we examine was collected as part of the longitudinal randomized control trial of the Tayari program. Tayari is funded by the Children's Investment Fund Foundation and is implemented by the Government of Kenya and RTI International. Tayari provides classroom materials for literacy and mathematics, life skills and social activities, ongoing skill-based teacher professional development, and focused classroom support to all of the pre-primary teachers in four of Kenya’s counties (Nairobi, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu and Siaya). In addition, Tayari supports low-cost private schools serving the nonformal settlements and slum areas in Nairobi. The program supports the Pre-Primary 1 (4-year old) and Pre-Primary 2 (5 year-old) classes.

The Tayari longitudinal dataset includes four waves of data from nearly 2600 children who began the intervention in 2016. Half of the sample began 2016 in PP1 and half began in PP2. The dataset therefore includes children who had 1 year and two years of the intervention, and tracks them through their pre-primary experience and entry into Grade 1 and 2. This robust dataset, which includes children in schools that were randomly assigned to both treatment and control conditions, provides an ideal opportunity to examine whether there are differences in achievement by gender, but also to determine whether the growth trajectories of boys and girls differ in general or specifically in some portions of the mathematics.

The Tayari program’s longitudinal impact evaluation study using a direct child assessment tool adapted from the Measuring Early Learning and Quality Outcomes (MELQO) instrument (UNESCO et.al. 2017). For mathematics, the MELQO domains measured were shape naming, number identification, producing a set, quantity discrimination, mental addition and subtraction, and oral addition. 2647 children were assessed in the first three rounds of the Tayari longitudinal study with this tool in treatment and control schools. 1278 were girls, and 1369 were boys. The fourth wave of data is being collected in October 2018.

Initial results point to no statistically significant differences in gains in numeracy skills for boys in girls over the first three waves of Tayari data who have had two years of Tayari. Girls increased their numeracy outcomes by 5.9 percentage points in Tayari schools (p-value <.05), and 4.4 percentage points in non-Tayari schools (p-value <.10). For children who had one year of Tayari, we find that girls identified 5.5 fewer numbers in a minute than in control schools (p-value <.01), while there was no difference for boys (p-value .42). Girls also answered 1.3 fewer addition and 1.2 fewer subtraction problems correctly while boys had no difference. We examine how Tayari’s intervention, implemented to improve school readiness for girls in particular, should be improved to more equitably support girls, and make recommendations for how instructional improvement programs can ensure gender balance in instructional interventions to improve overall learning outcomes.

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