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EGR Barometer data for Madang was provided by the World Bank. The early grade reading assessments (EGRA) were administered in English in grades 2, 3 and 4 (E2, P3 and P4).

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, 59-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).

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 told a word verbally and asked to isolate and pronounce the first sound of the word (the initial sound). The EGRA administrator recorded the number of correct letter sounds identified.

Letter Names

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

The students were presented with a grid listing 100 letters in a random order. Students were 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, making note of any mistakes the child made while calling out the letter names. The score is reported as correct letters per minute (clpm).


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 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).

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.

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


Dictation is used to assess both oral language and writing skills. Students’ ability to hear sounds and then correctly write the corresponding letters and words demonstrates their growing skill in understanding the alphabet.

The dictation sentence was 10 words long and was “Go to the store and buy some rice and sugar.” The child was asked to write, spell, and use grammar properly. The score represents the weighted number of correct writing, spelling, and grammar responses. Scores could range from 0-10. Means are based on the weighted percentage version of this variable.

Year 2011
Grade(s) 2, 3, 4
Language English
Assessment Type Regional Assessment
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Regions Included in the Study

Not part of the study
Part of the study
Map of PNG

Key Findings

  • 1/3

    The average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 2, 3 and 4 were 18, 40 and 63 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Boys and girls performed about the same in grades 2 and 3, but girls had a higher rate (69 cwpm) than boys (57 cwpm) in grade 4.

  • 2/3

    Fifteen percent of grade 2 students, 6% of grade 3 students and 3% of grade 4 students were unable to read a single word of connected text.

  • 3/3

    Over a third of grade 2 students (37%), one in five grade 3 students (20%) and 8% of grade 4 students could not answer a single reading comprehension question.

Evaluation Design

The EGRA was administered in 20 schools selected using a stratified random design. As the Madang report notes, “Two types of schools were examined: multi-grade and single-grade schools. These were sampled with a probability proportional to size…. All schools in the sample were combined primary and elementary schools. The stratified random sample, particularly in regards to the oversampling of larger schools, was chosen for reasons of practicality and accessibility in a particularly challenging working environment. As a result it should not be assumed that the results generated from the data present an “unbiased” estimate of schooling in Madang in the target grades.…it is important to note that the levels of attainment shown… are likely to overestimate student reading abilities” (p.18). Estimates provided in the Barometer for Madang are calculated as if they came from a simple random sample. More detailed information can be found in Madang Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Survey: 2011 Diagnostic Results Report (PDF, 4.8 MB).

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