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The USAID Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) is a 7-year national basic education program implemented from 2013 to 2017 by the International Rescue Committee. The project was implemented in six districts: Azad Jammu Kashmir, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh (which is reported separately).

The goal of PRP was to improve the reading skills of children in Pakistan through improved access to quality education. PRP improved classroom learning environments, policies and systems, and community-based support for reading. This EGR Barometer data for PRP was collected in 2013, representing the baseline (first) assessment.

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).

Orientation to Print

The orientation to print subtask is a measure of concepts of print. It is considered one of the lowest order skills students develop as they begin to learn to read.

The subtask is administered by asking students questions such as how to hold a book or where the text begins. The orientation to print score is the total correct answers, with a maximum possible score of five.

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 read out loud 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).

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 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 asked to read out loud as many 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 50 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

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.

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

Year 2013
Grade(s) 3, 5
Language Urdu
Assessment EGRA
Assessment Type Reading Program
View Country Page

Districts Included in the Study

Not part of the study
Districts included in the study
Map of Pakistan

Key Findings

  • 1/10

    In Azad Jammu Kashmir cohorts 1 and 2, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 3 and 5 were 28 and 75 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Girls performed better than boys in grade 5 (87 cwpm vs. 66 cwpm).

  • 2/10

    In Azad Jammu Kashmir cohorts 1 and 2, 24% of grade 3 students and 3% percent of grade 5 students were unable to read a single word of connected text. Boys and girls performed about the same in each grade.

  • 3/10

    In Balochistan cohorts 1 and 2, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 3 and 5 were 28 and 72 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Boys and girls performed about the same in each grade.

  • 4/10

    In Balochistan cohorts 1 and 2, 42% of grade 3 students and 17% of grade 5 students were unable to read a single word of connected text. Boys and girls performed about the same in each grade.

  • 5/10

    In Gilgit-Baltistan cohorts 1 and 2, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 3 and 5 were 26 and 60 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Boys and girls performed about the same in each grade.

  • 6/10

    In Gilgit-Baltistan cohorts 1 and 2, 26% of grade 3 students and 6% of grade 5 students were unable to read a single word of connected text. Boys and girls performed about the same in each grade.

  • 7/10

    In Islamabad cohorts 1 and 2, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 3 and 5 were 18 and 72 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Girls performed better than boys in both grade 3 (24 cwpm vs. 12 cwpm) and grade 5 (86 cwpm vs. 55 cwpm).

  • 8/10

    In Islamabad cohorts 1 and 2, 39% of grade 3 students and 3% of grade 5 students were unable to read a single word of connected text. Girls performed better than boys in both grade 3 (27% vs. 51%) and grade 5 (1% vs. 6%).

  • 9/10

    In Kyber Pakhtunkhwa cohorts 1 and 2, the average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate for students in grades 3 and 5 were 32 and 70 correct words per minute (cwpm), respectively. Girls performed better than boys in both grade 3 (38 cwpm vs. 27 cwpm) and grade 5 (84 cwpm vs. 58 cwpm).

  • 10/10

    In Kyber Pakhtunkhwa cohorts 1 and 2, 23% of grade 3 students and 10% of grade 5 students were unable to read a single word of connected text. Girls performed better than boys in both grade 3 (18% vs. 27 %) and grade 5 (3% vs. 15%).

Program Design

The program closely collaborated with local teacher training institutes, the Pakistan Ministry of Education, provincial governments, the Higher Education Commission, and the National Accreditation Council to strengthen, develop, and implement a reading curriculum and to update and distribute textbooks for grades 1 and 2. The textbooks incorporated phonics-based instruction, assessment, and inclusion. Teachers were trained to implement the new curriculum. Emergency situations and military conflict have interrupted learning for many students in Pakistan. PRP worked to improve access to education through formal and non-formal school settings.

Evaluation Design

EGR Barometer data for PRP are from a baseline in 2013 and a follow-up in 2017. Results are from two cohorts combined, one of which was a “light treatment” district at the baseline but later received the full intervention. Results are available for “light treatment” districts, which received indirect benefits from programming. The impact of PRP was evaluated by comparing the full treatment group in 2013 and 2017. A limitation of the impact evaluation design was that there was no comparison group.