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The 2015 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) was conducted in grades 3 and 5 in the following provinces: Equateur, Kasai Occidental, Kasai Oriental, and Katanga. This EGRA serves as a snapshot of reading ability of Grade 3 children to read in three of the DRC’s national languages (Lingala, Kiswahili, and Tshiluba), those same students’ receptive and productive oral French skills, and Grade 5 children’s ability to read in French.

EGRA Subtasks

An EGRA is a test students take that can measure their skill at both pre-reading and reading subtasks. The subtasks used in this assessment are described below.

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF)

The oral reading fluency (ORF) subtask measures how quickly and accurately a student can read. It is a core component of EGRA 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 was familiar to them. They were asked to read it out loud “quickly but carefully” and were given 60 seconds from when they begin to read. The EGRA administrator timed the student, making note of any mistakes the student made while reading the words aloud. The score is reported as correct words per minute (cwpm).

Letter Sounds

The letter sounds subtask tests students’ ability to recognize letters and speak their corresponding sounds.

Students were presented with a sheet listing letters and asked to read out loud as many as they could, as quickly and carefully as they could, in 1 minute. The EGRA administrator timed the child and recorded the number of correct letter sounds per minute (clspm).

Nonwords

The nonword subtask tests students’ skill in using letter-sound connections to figure out (“decode”) words. While many students learn to memorize a broad range of "sight" words, they need skills to decode less-familiar words.

In this subtask, students were given a list of made-up words that do not exist in the language tested but follow a typical spelling/sound combination of the language. This ensures that the student is not recognizing the whole word and must “sound-out” the non-word in order to correctly read it. The student was asked to read out loud as many words as they could, as quickly and carefully as they could. The EGRA administrator timed the student and recorded the number of correct words per minute (cnwpm).

Familiar Words

The familiar word reading subtask is similar in format to the nonword reading subtask except that it presents the student with a grid containing words they are expected to be able to read at their grade level and have likely encountered before.

The students were instructed to read aloud as many words as they could in 1 minute. The EGRA administrator timed the student, making note of any mistakes the student made while reading the words aloud. The score is reported as correct words per minute (cwpm).

Vocabulary 1

Vocabulary is words and their meanings; this subtask measures what words students know. Research suggests children need to understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage for comprehension to occur. Students in Grade 5 were administered three vocabulary subtasks in French to measure oral abilities in that language.

In the first vocabulary subtask, the EGRA administrator spoke words aloud and asked the student to “point” to their meaning (e.g., a body part). The administrator recorded the number of vocabulary words the student got correct, with no time limit.

Vocabulary 2

Vocabulary is words and their meanings; this subtask measures what words students know. Research suggests children need to understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage for comprehension to occur. Students in Grade 5 were administered three vocabulary subtasks in French to measure oral abilities in that language.

In the second vocabulary subtask, the EGRA administrator spoke words aloud and asked the student to place a pencil in various places relative to their body or other objects. For example, the administrator said to place the pencil “under a piece of paper”. The administrator recorded the number of occurrences the student got correct, with no time limit.

Vocabulary 3

Vocabulary is words and their meanings; this subtask measures what words students know. Research suggests children need to understand at least 90% of the vocabulary in a passage for comprehension to occur. Students in Grade 5 were administered three vocabulary subtasks in French to measure oral abilities in that language.

In the third vocabulary subtask, the EGRA administrator showed the student pictures of common things in their environment, such as a book or airplane, and asked to say the name of each. The administrator recorded the number of vocabulary words the student got correct, with no time limit.

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. Depending on how much of the ORF passage the student was able to read, the EGRA administrator asked the student up to five questions about the story. The EGRA administrator recorded the number of questions answered correctly.

Year 2015
Grade(s) 3, 5
Language French, Kiswahili, Lingala, Tshiluba
Assessment EGRA
Assessment Type Reading Program
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Provinces Included in the Study

Not included in the study
Provinces included in the study
Map of DRC

Key Findings

  • 1/4

    In Equateur, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for grade 5 students in French was 11 correct words per minute (CWPM). Boys had a higher average fluency rate than girls (13 CWPM vs. 8 CWPM).

  • 2/4

    In Kasai Occidental, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for grade 5 students in French was 16 correct words per minute (CWPM). Boys had a higher average fluency rate than girls (20 CWPM vs. 11 CWPM).

  • 3/4

    In Kasai Oriental, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for grade 5 students in French was 17 correct words per minute (CWPM). Boys had a higher average fluency rate than girls (22 CWPM vs. 12 CWPM).

  • 4/4

    In Katanga, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for grade 5 students in French was 18 correct words per minute (CWPM). There was no difference between the fluency rates of boys and girls.