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EGR Barometer data are from the USAID-funded EdData II Egypt Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Baseline. The study was a nationally representative sample of 200 schools: 40 Egypt Ministry of Education primary schools randomly selected from each of 5 subnational regions encompassing 25 of Egypt’s 27 governorates. A total of 1,992 grade 3 students were assessed. The data are nationally and sub-nationally representative.

EGRA Subtasks

An EGRA measures children’s pre-reading and reading skills. 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, 57-word 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 100 letters and asked to say out loud the letter sound for 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).


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 50 made-up words with diacritics that do not exist in Arabic but follow a typical spelling/sound combination of Arabic. 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).

Listening Comprehension

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

In this subtask, the EGRA administrator read a passage to the student, who did not see it. The student then responded to questions or statements read by the EGRA administrator. The listening comprehension score is the total correct answers, with a maximum possible score of seven.

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. All children that read more than the first line (8 words) of the story were asked all six reading comprehension questions. This subtask was not timed, but students who did not reply to a specific question within ten seconds were scored as “No Reply” on that question. Each question was asked only once with no repeat. The EGRA administrator recorded the number of questions answered correctly.

MAZE Reading Comprehension Questions

The Maze assessment is a measure of reading comprehension. Comprehension is the main goal of reading, but is a complex task that requires sufficient proficiency in all other skills.

Children were given a passage of some 140 words to read aloud. On every line of the passage, a single word was replaced with a multiple-choice selection of three words. All three words in each selection shared the same grammatical category (e.g., nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.). For each selection, students were asked to identify the word that best fit the story. The passage included 14 of these multiple-choice word selections. This was a timed subtask and children were given three minutes to read the passage and select the best word for each selection. The Maze comprehension score was the total number of correct words selected, with a maximum possible score of 14. Children who read all three words in a selection without clearly selecting the best one were scored as “No Reply” for that selection.

Year 2013
Grade(s) 3
Language Arabic
Assessment Type National Assessment
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Regions Includes in the Study

Map of Egypt

Key Findings

  • 1/4

    Grade 3 students had an average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate of 22 correct words per minute (cwpm).

  • 2/4

    More than one third (36 percent) of grade 3 students were unable to answer a single reading comprehension question.

  • 3/4

    Twenty-two percent of grade 3 students were unable to read a single word.

  • 4/4

    Reading comprehension improved as average oral reading fluency (ORF) improved. The average ORF rate for students answering 1-6 to comprehension questions increased from 17 CWPM (1 question) to 26 CWPM (2 questions) to 54 CWPM (6 questions).

Program Details

More detailed information can be found in Egypt Grade 3 Early Grade Reading Assessment Baseline (PDF, 7.2 MB) report.

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