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The Bangladesh Innovation for Improving Early Grade Reading Activity (IIEGRA) was a 3-year USAID program implemented in Cox’s Bazar and Khagrachari from 2015 to 2018, led by BRAC.

The goal of the program was to improve student reading outcomes in the early grades through expansion of and access to basic, high-quality instruction in mother tongue.

IIEGRA was prepared by the BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BIED) in consultation with Save the Children (STC) and USAID. Save the Children’s approach to early grade reading is called Literacy Boost, which only assesses students for oral reading fluency, accuracy, and reading comprehension if they were able to correctly read five words of the reading passage in the first 30 seconds. This represents 58% of the grade 1 sample, 79% of the grade 2 sample, and 91% percent of the grade 3 sample. In other words, 42%, 21% and 9% of students in grades 1, 2, and 3 respectively, were non-readers who did not score well enough to be tested.

Literacy Boost Measurements

Literacy Boost is an early grade reading assessment by Save the Children. Unlike EGRA, the Literacy Boost Reading Assessment task only assesses students for oral reading fluency, accuracy, and reading comprehension if they were able to correctly read five words of the reading passage in the first 30 seconds (“readers”). Students who cannot meet the requirement are defined as "non-readers." All subtasks were untimed, except for oral reading fluency (ORF).

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF)

The oral reading fluency (ORF) subtask measures how quickly and accurately a student can read. It is a core reading skill measurement because it brings together lower-level reading skills (such as decoding and familiar word recognition) with how quickly and easily the student can read a given word (called automaticity).

Students were given a short, written passage on a topic that is familiar to them. They were asked to read it out loud “quickly but carefully”. If they were unable to read at least five words correctly, they were stopped and considered “non-readers”. The test administrator timed the student, making note of any mistakes the student makes while reading the words aloud. The Literacy Boost score is reported only for "readers" (not non-readers) as correct words per minute (cwpm). For IIEGRA, readers were allowed up to 500 second to finish reading the passage.

Initial Sound

The initial sound subtask is a measure of a student’s ability to identify the first sound in a word. It also measures a student’s ability to separate words into sounds and to manipulate those sounds.

Students were presented with 10 sets of 3 similar-beginning-sounding words, of which 2 words had similar-beginning-sounds. The test administrator records the number of correct words identified. This task is untimed in Literacy Boost.

Letter Names

The letter names subtask tests students’ ability to recognize letters and accurately speak their corresponding name.

Students were presented with a sheet listing 50 letters from the Bangla alphabet and were asked to read out loud as many as they could. The test administrator counted the number of letters the child pronounced correctly. For IIEGRA, students were allowed up to 300 seconds to identify the letter names.

Familiar Words

The familiar word reading subtask presents the student with words they are expected to be able to read at their grade level and have likely encountered before.

The student was instructed to read aloud as many words as they could. The test administrator counted the number of words the child got correct. For IIEGRA, students were allowed up to 300 seconds to identify the familiar words.

End Rhymes

Students were presented with 10 sets of 3 words, of which 2 words had ending rhymes. The test administrator records the number of correct words identified. This task is untimed in Literacy Boost.

Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension is a measure of students’ oral language skills, which also contribute to reading.

In this subtask, the test administrator read a passage to the student, who did not see it. The student then responded to questions or statements read by the test administrator. The IIEGRA study only assessed students for listening comprehension if they were unable to correctly read five words of the passage used to assess oral reading fluency (ORF) in the first 30 seconds. This represents 42% of the grade 1 sample, 21% of the grade 2 sample, and 9% percent of the grade 3 sample.

Accuracy

Accuracy measures the percentage of words in the reading passage read correctly. The Literacy Boost Reading Assessment task only assesses students for accuracy if they were able to correctly read five words of the reading passage in the first 30 seconds. This represents 58% of the grade 1 sample, 79% of the grade 2 sample, and 91% percent of the grade 3 sample. In other words, 42%, 21% and 9% of students in grades 1, 2, and 3 respectively, were non-readers who did not score well enough to be tested.

Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is the main goal of reading—understanding what is read. Comprehension is a complex task that requires some ability in all other reading skills.

This subtask is paired with the ORF subtask. Unlike EGRA, the Literacy Boost Reading Assessment task only assesses students for comprehension if they were able to correctly read five words of the reading passage in the first 30 seconds. This represents 58% of the grade 1 sample, 79% of the grade 2 sample, and 91% percent of the grade 3 sample. In other words, 42%, 21% and 9% of students in grades 1, 2, and 3 respectively, were non-readers who did not score well enough to be tested.

Those students who met this criterion were asked 10 questions about a passage that included literal, inferential, and evaluative questions. The reading comprehension score is the number of those questions answered correctly. This task is untimed in Literacy Boost.

Year 2016
Grade(s) 1, 2, 3
Language Bangla
Assessment Literacy Boost
Assessment Type Reading Program
View Country Page

Districts Included in the Study

Not part of the program
Part of the program
Map of Bangladesh

Key Findings

  • 1/4

    On average, boys and girls read at about the same rates in each grade.

    Bar chart showing average oral reading fluency for grades 1-3. Numerical values presented in bar chart: Grade 1 27, Grade 2 44, Grade 3 54.
  • 2/4

    Only a small percentage of students classified as readers in grades 1, 2, and 3 were unable to answer any of the reading comprehension questions (3% percent of students in grades 1 and 2, and 4% of grade 3 students).

  • 3/4

    Grade 1 boys and girls were able to identify about the same number of letters (38 and 39 respectively), out of 50 letters in the Bangla alphabet. With an additional year of schooling, grade 2 boys correctly identified 45 letters and girls identified 44.

  • 4/4

    More than one-fourth (27%) of grade 1 students were able to identify every word in a list of 20 familiar words. With an additional year of schooling, about the same percentage of grade 2 students (28%) identified all 20 familiar words. About half of grade 3 students (51%) identified all 20 words.

Program Design

IIEGRA activities included improved teaching and learning materials for early grade literacy and training for teachers to improve their capacity to deliver quality classroom instruction. Additionally, the program supported community engagement for early literacy awareness and expanded access to quality education for children who had either dropped-out or never attended school.

Evaluation Design

EGR Barometer data for IIEGRA were collected only in 2014. Analysis shows just the baseline achievement for students in grades 1, 2, and 3.

BIED modified the STC approach in several ways. First, all students, readers and non-readers alike, were assessed for reading accuracy. Second, while Literacy Boost does not time subtasks other than oral reading fluency, the IIEGRA assessment used time limits of 300 seconds for letter identification and familiar word identification. Readers were allowed up to 500 seconds to complete the oral reading fluency passage. Third, while limiting assessment of reading comprehension to readers only, the IIEGRA study had assessors convert the reading comprehension passage into a listening comprehension task, where the assessors read the reading comprehension questions to non-readers, who responded orally.

A two-stage sampling procedure was used. At the first stage, 30 Government Primary Schools participating in IIEGRA (treatment) and 30 Government Primary Schools not participating in IIEGRA (control) were selected by simple random sampling from the areas (upazilas) distributed proportionately based on the number of schools in the upazilas. At the second stage, seven boys and seven girls from each of grades of 1, 2 and 3 in each of the sample schools were selected through systematic random sampling. In some sample schools there were insufficient numbers of students in some grades, particularly in the control schools. In those cases, all the available students in the classes were included.

A total of 803 grade 1, 794 grade 2, and 779 grade 3 students are included in the final sample. As with the original study, estimates provided in the Barometer for IIEGRA Bangladesh are calculated as if they came from a simple random sample.

More detailed information about IIEGRA and the specific measures may be found in Results of Baseline Survey of the Innovation for Improving Early Grade Reading Activity (IIEGRA) project report.