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Glossary

ASER

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Survey is an annual household-based, citizen-led assessment of learning outcomes used in rural India. By design, ASER is what we call a “floor” test, which means that ASER aims to evaluate students’ early reading ability—the foundation or floor of their education. ASER uses the curriculum mandated for use by each state in India to develop the assessments. The ASER reading assessment categorizes learners in one of five levels:

  1. Non-reader (beginner)
  2. Letter-level
  3. Word-level
  4. Standard 1-level
  5. Standard 2-level
Benchmark

In education, a benchmark is a set mark, score, or level for a skill, also known as a standard, against which performance on that skill can be measured. We rely on benchmarks to understand and compare student performance in reading, as well as in other subjects. Reading benchmarks can be used to track the overall performance of a school, district, or education system. They can also be used to identify those individual students who need more support.

Ceiling effect

A ceiling effect occurs when there is an artificial upper limit on the possible values for a variable, or a subtask, and a large concentration of participants score at or near this limit. This is the opposite of the floor effect (see below). For example, if an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) subtask is much too easy for most children, most children will score at the upper end of the score range. This means there is less variation in scores for that subtask. Without a full range of scores and fully variable data, the EGRA itself could be less valid.

Concepts of Print

The “concepts of print” refers to the awareness that books and texts carry meaning and represent meaning. One Early Grade Reading Assessment subtask that measures this awareness is called Orientation to Print. It is considered one of the lowest order skills children learn as they begin to learn to read. The subtask is administered by asking children how to hold a book or where the text begins.

Control group

In research, ideally, there is a control group and treatment group. The treatment group receives an intervention of some sort that is the focus of the research. The control group is a group that shares the same characteristics of the treatment group but does not receive the treatment/intervention. The changes in the treatment group's outcomes are then compared to any changes in the control group's outcomes.

cwpm, clpm, cspm

Several Early Grade Reading Assessment subtasks assess fluency: a combination of accuracy (correctness) and speed. Those subtasks are often reported as correct {unit} per minute: corrects words per minute (cwpm), correct syllables per minute (cspm), correct letters per minute (clpm), etc.

Distribution

A distribution is the range and frequency of an outcome, often displayed as a bar graph or histogram (see below).

Effect size

An effect size is the difference between two averages converted into standard deviations. This allows us to compare the size of one difference with other differences also converted into standard deviations.

EGRA

An Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) measures children’s pre-reading and reading skills. It is typically used with children in Kindergarten through the end of primary school. EGRA tests children’s reading skills using subtasks, such as letter names and letter sounds. The test is typically administered by a teacher or implementer one-on-one with a child.

Floor effect

A floor effect can occur when there is an artificial lower limit on the possible values for a variable, or a subtask, and a large concentration of participants score at or near this limit. This is the opposite of the ceiling effect (see above). For example, if an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) subtask is much too difficult for most children, most children will score at the lower end of the allowable ranges (typically with a high proportion of zero scores). This means there is less variation in scores for that subtask. Without a full range of scores and fully variable data, the EGRA itself could be less valid.

Familiar words

Familiar words is an Early Grade Reading Assessment subtask. It presents the child with a grid that contains words that the child is expected to be able to read, at their grade level, and that the child has likely encountered before. For this subtask, children are instructed to read aloud as many words as they can in 1 minute. The assessor times the child, making note of any mistakes the child makes while reading the words aloud. The score is reported as “correct words per minute” (cwpm).

Grapheme

A grapheme is the most basic unit in an alphabetic written system that can change the meaning of a word. Graphemes represent phonemes. A grapheme might be composed of one or more than one letter (e.g., “sh” in the word “fish”) or of a letter with a diacritic mark (such as “é” vs. “e” in French).

Histogram

A histogram is a graphical representation of the range and frequencies of an outcome.

Letter names

Letter names is an Early Grade Reading Assessment subtask that tests children’s ability to recognize letters and accurately speak the letter’s corresponding name. It presents the child with a grid listing 50–100 letters in a random order. The child is instructed to speak aloud the names of as many letters as they can in 1 minute. The assessor times the child, making note of any mistakes the child makes while calling out the letter names. The score is typically reported as “correct letters per minute” (clpm).

Letter sounds

Letter sounds is an Early Grade Reading Assessment subtask that tests children’s ability to recognize letters and their corresponding sounds. Students are presented with a sheet listing 50–100 letters and are asked to provide the sounds of all the letters that they can in 1 minute. The assessor times the child and records the number of “correct letter sounds per minute” (clspm).

Literacy Boost Reading Assessment

Literacy Boost Reading Assessment is an early grade literacy assessment developed by the non-profit Save the Children. Unlike the Early Grade Reading Assessment, the Literacy Boost Reading Assessment only assesses students for oral reading fluency, accuracy, and reading comprehension if they were able to correctly read five words of a reading passage in the first 30 seconds. Students who are able to meet this requirement are defined as "readers." Students who cannot meet the requirement are defined as "non-readers."

Mean

Mean is the average number calculated from multiple numbers. During an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), a child is scored on each subtask that is administered. An EGRA mean is the average score of a cohort of students on a given subtask. Means give a good overall snapshot of how a group of students is performing at a particular reading skill.

Nonwords

Nonwords is an Early Grade Reading Assessment subtask that tests children’s skill in using letter-sound connections to decode words. While many children learn to memorize a broad range of "sight" words, they may not have the skills later on to decode less-familiar words. In this subtask, children are given a list of made-up words that do not exist in the language tested and are asked to read out loud as many as they can, as quickly and carefully as they can. The assessor times the child and records the number of correct words per minute (cwpm).

ORF

Oral reading fluency (ORF) is an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) subtask that measures overall reading proficiency and comprehension. It is a core component of EGRA. Children are given a short, written passage on a topic that is familiar to them. They are asked to read it out loud “quickly but carefully.” The assessor keeps track of the time and the number of correct words read per minute (cwpm).

P-value

A p-value represents the chance that an outcome occurred by chance. For example, if a p-value is 0.10, there was only a 1 in 10 probability that the outcome occurred by chance.

SDG Indicator 4.1.1(a)

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to be achieved by 2030. For Goal 4, which focuses on education, countries pledge to "ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes." Among the indicators used to track progress toward this goal is the percentage of children/young people: (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics. Disaggregation should be by sex, location, wealth (and others where data are available).

Subtasks

The Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) uses subtasks to measure a child’s reading skills. The subtasks typically take around 2–4 minutes each to administer with a child. The most common EGRA subtask is oral reading fluency (ORF).

Zero scores

Sometimes children are not able to answer a single question correctly on a given subtask. For example, they may not be able to identify a single letter sound or read a single word. This results in a subtask score of zero. Zero scores as a group represent the proportion of students who cannot perform even one item correctly for a given subtask.