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In March 2019, the USAID Philippines ACR–Philippines activity worked with the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) to administer an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). The data is representative of schools that teach in the mother tongues (child’s first language) of Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Mëranaw, and Magindanawn. The assessment measured grade 2 and 3 students’ current reading skill in each of the languages.

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).

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 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 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.

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.

Year 2019
Grade(s) 2, 3
Language Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Maguindanawn, Meranaw
Assessment Type Regional Assessment
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Regions Included in the Study

Not included in the study
Regions included in the study
Map of Philippines

Key Findings

  • 1/3

    In both grades, girls read at faster rates compared to boys.

    Bar chart showing average oral reading fluency for boys and girls in grades 1 and 2. Numerical values presented in bar chart: Grade 1 girls 20, Grade 1 boys 15, Grade 2 girls 41, Grade 2 boys 29.
  • 2/3

    About 44% of grade 2 students could not read a single word of connected text compared to 24% of grade 3 students.

  • 3/3

    A majority of grade 2 students (64%) could not answer a single reading comprehension question. Among grade 3 students, 43% could not answer a single comprehension question.

Program Design

This 2-year, USAID-funded activity seeks to support reading outcomes for primary learners, with a focus on increasing impact, scale, and sustainability. This activity builds on the capacity of DepEd to support early grade reading programs through research. These data are from RTI’s third administration of an EGRA in the Philippines to examine how the implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy is progressing. Earlier EGRAs were conducted in 2014 and 2015.

ACR–Philippines also conducted a national EGRA in 2019, four separate language studies in Mindanao, and Educational Exchanges. This activity also supports education exchanges, information and communications technology for education research, and capacity-building activities for monitoring and evaluation.

Evaluation Design

EGR Barometer data are from the ACR–Philippines 2019 Regional Assessment. The data make up a regionally representative snapshot of reading performance in Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Mëranaw, and Magindanawn languages for students in grades 2 and 3 in regions IX, X, XII and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao of the Philippines.

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