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Developing and using classroom observation instruments to improve early grade reading (EGR): experiences, lessons learned and guidance

Tue, April 16, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific E

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


The importance of lesson or classroom observation in early grade reading (EGR) initiatives is increasingly gaining attention in low-resourced country contexts as governments, donors and other stakeholders recognize the importance of their use in improving teacher performance and student learning. However, classroom observations (CO) can serve many different purposes and each requires an appropriate instrument and careful attention to its administration and use.

Results from a recent Global Reading Network (GRN) survey on classroom observation found that EGR programs observe teachers for a variety of purposes: 1) to inform feedback and on-going support tailored to individual teacher needs; 2) to monitor program implementation, 3) to evaluate program impact, and 4) to explore linkages between specific teachers’ instructional practices and student learning outcomes. Results from the GRN survey suggested that EGR programs confront many challenges developing and adapting classroom observations instruments as well as administering them. Due to limited resources and time, programs often must develop and/or adapt instruments quickly, without time to verify they are the most appropriate instrument for their purposes. In some cases, programs develop and use one instrument to serve multiple purposes, which potentially compromises the instrument’s effectiveness. Another challenge includes training observers to appropriately and reliably score classroom observation instruments. Finally, programs are encountering challenges sustaining the use of CO instruments within ministries of education.

The objective of this panel is to present the different purposes and uses of classroom observations in EGR programs; share a survey results and CO experiences; and provide guidance to the many stakeholders who are involved in the development and use of CO instruments in EGR programs. Presenters will discuss the following topics:

• Different purposes and uses of classroom observation in EGR programs;
• Results from a CO survey highlighting challenges and best practices of instrument development and use in early grade reading initiatives;
• Specific experiences and lessons learned from EGR programs relating to instrument; adaptation and/or use for different purposes including coaching, monitoring, and evaluating impact; and
• Recommendations for more effective and sustainable use of classroom observations in reading improvement initiatives.

Presentations will highlight some of the key questions and debates EGR programs are confronting in their development and sustained use of classroom observation instruments and provide illustrative examples of how some organizations have tried to address these challenges in their programs and recommendations for further practice.
The topic of classroom observations in early grade reading programs in low-income countries is directly relevant to field of comparative and international education, as well as the Global Literacy and Teacher Education and the Teaching Profession Special Interest Groups. This panel topic is also timely given the increased recognition on the role of the teacher and teacher professional development in improving student learning outcomes. More broadly, the panel aligns with this year’s CIES conference theme of education for sustainability by reinforcing the central role that early grade teachers play in helping children acquire critical foundational skills that current and future generations of global citizens need to understand and tackle emerging and still unknown challenges. Doing so will require critical thinking skills and creativity, both of which are cultivated through reading.

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