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EGR Barometer data are from the USAID Education Data for Decision Making (EdData) II Nepal EGRA, conducted in 2014. The study included a nationally representative sample of 5,083 grade 2 and 3 students from 269 schools. The sample design ensured that findings would also be representative of the Nepali Ecobelts (Mountain, Kathmandu Valley, Hill, Terai) and the six Nepali regions.

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, 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).

Matra Identification

In Nepali, a matra is a unit of two letters that are combined with a symbol (such as an accent or other mark) that changes the sound of the vowel. Two or more matras combined form words. The matra subtask assesses students’ ability to quickly and accurately identify these units.

Students were presented with a grid listing 100 matras and were asked to provide the correct matra sounds in 1 minute. The EGRA administrator timed the student, making note of any mistakes the student makes while reading the matras aloud. The score is reported as correct matras per minute (cmpm).

Letter Sounds

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

Students were presented with a grid 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. (In some languages, graphemes, or sets of letters and/or symbols representing a single sound, are presented, e.g., in French, "é" is presented separately from "e.") 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 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).

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 three.

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 six questions about the story. The EGRA administrator recorded the number of questions answered correctly.

Regions Included in the Study

Not part of the study
Part of the study
Map of Nepal
Kathmandu Valley
Map of Nepal

Key Findings

  • 1/4

    Grade 2 students had an average oral reading fluency (ORF) score of 14 correct words per minute (cwpm), while grade 3 students read an average score of 27 cwmp. There were no statistically significant differences in ORF scores between boys and girls in either grade.

  • 2/4

    More than one-third of grade 2 students (37%) could not read a single word of connected text compared to 19% of grade 3 students.

  • 3/4

    Large proportions of students in both grades had difficulty with reading comprehension.

    Half of grade 2 students (50%) and more than one-quarter (28%) of grade 3 students were unable to answer even one comprehension question.
  • 4/4

    In both grades, students with higher comprehension had higher average rates of oral reading fluency (ORF).

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