Worldreader’s iREAD 2 project, funded by an All Children Reading grant from USAID, World Vision and AusAid, aims to improve early grade reading skills for students in selected P1 – P3 classrooms in Ghana. The project’s midterm evaluation, carried out in July 2013, uncovered preliminary progress towards meeting those goals. After 5 months of program implementation a significant positive treatment effect on students was found on seven of nine sub-tests. Additional findings include:
Significant improvements in mother tongue oral reading fluency and listening comprehension: After just five months, students with access to Worldreader programs learned to read, on average, 5.3 words per minute faster in Twi than students in the control schools. In addition, students in Worldreader’s programs improved 30% faster on listening comprehension than the control group, meaning they are not only learning to read faster, but also to integrate and understand material they hear. These gains, however, have yet to translate into significant improvements in reading comprehension, due to the fact that students are still reading at a relatively slow rate.
Narrowing of the gender gap: Girls and boys in Worldreader’s programs improved the same amount in terms of oral reading fluency in Twi, whereas girls in control schools improved only half as much as boys.
Important gains in foundational English reading skills: Worldreader students improved over 50% more on both letter sound knowledge and invented word decoding in English than students in the control schools.
Each student in the iREAD 2 program receives an e-reader featuring roughly 140 titles (15% of which are textbooks, and 85% of which are age- and grade-appropriate storybooks), in addition to teacher capacity building and extracurricular (“Out of Classroom Experience” (OCE)) activities focused on reading. These successes are driven by the integrated approach of the program. Based on midterm and ongoing feedback, the project team has modified teacher training materials, provided additional teacher resources, and updated devices with more books. The final assessment will be conducted at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year (July 2014)