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Scaling EdTech for literacy: Perspectives from funders

Thu, April 18, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Street (Level 0), Regency B

Proposal

Funding scalability analyses as part of each project evaluation contributed to capacity building for grantees (12) and provided a comparable framework for the Funding Partners (two bi-lateral and one non-governmental organization) to use when evaluating projects for future investment. Grantees implemented a small, literacy-focused, proof-of-concept or pilot project in a low-resource setting. Results of the analyses can be found in each Project Evaluation and a summary of the results can be found in the “Technology-Based Innovations to Improve Early Grade Reading Outcomes in Developing Countries” report. (School-to-School International, 2018). The seven parameters of scalability – credibility, observability, relevance, relative advantage, ease of transfer and adoption, testability, and sustainability of funding – were meant to inform local program staff, stakeholders, and donors about key considerations before scaling their solutions. Coupled with their Early Grade Reading Assessment results, grantees used the scalability analyses to demonstrate evidence of success to Ministries of Education and other potential partners and donors essential to scaling their solutions. The implementer of the Qysas project scored a rating of “easier to scale” on four of six parameters – the most of any grantee – and has already scaled in 100 schools in Jordan through additional partnerships.

The Partners learned that:
● Local organizations with intimate knowledge of the context and a positive performance history scored “easy to scale” ratings on more parameters than international organizations. This suggests that these organizations are the best positioned to sustainably scale-up an evidence-based innovative approach to improving reading.
● All of the funded solutions appear to be relevant, or effectively addressing a problem that is recognizable and considered important by stakeholders. (School to School International, 2018)
● More research is necessary to determine the relative advantage of the funded solutions over current or alternative solutions.
● From these learnings, the Partners will test some of the previously funded solutions in new contexts which requires investment in updating the models to reflect language and literacy needs, technology availability, connectivity and costs.

What are the challenges to using this for decisions?
1. Comparing Apples to Oranges - Not all evaluations include scalability analyses which makes it more difficult for funders to determine which solutions warrant further investment.
2. Modifying Planned Activities - To effectively make decisions based on scalability analyses, funders must have the willingness to reflect on currently planned activities and be prepared to change those that aren’t scalable based on these parameters.
3. More Funding for Cost Analysis - To better determine the costs of these solutions, especially if replicated, thorough cost-benefit analysis is necessary and will require additional investment.

Funders and decision-makers should require similar analyses of projects they’ve already funded or will fund in the future. This would enable comparability between solutions to ease the burden of selecting which interventions could improve reading in their context. Even if not required, implementers should invest in scalability analyses of their models/approaches to make decisions on research and activities that could improve scalability and ultimately improve reading skills for more children.

References
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development. 2015. Request for Applications. Retrieved from All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development website: https://www.omnicompete.com/acrgcd_grant_competition.html.

School-to-School International. 2018. Technology-based Innovations to Support Early Grade Reading in Developing Countries. Retrieved from All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development website: https://allchildrenreading.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/STS_Summary-Report-Round-2_4.24.2018_Lo-Res.pdf.

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