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These EGR Barometer data are from the USAID Read with Me Project's Endline Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), which was conducted in 2021. Read with Me was a 5-year project (2016-2021) that sought to understand trends in early grade reading performance in Tajik and Russian at the national level as well as in schools directly supported by the project in Tajikistan.

Grade 2 and 4 students were assessed using Tajik- and Russian-language adaptations of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), which measures student performance on the basic foundational skills required for fluency in reading. The results provide a national and regional snapshot of early grade reading in Tajikistan.

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 short text (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).

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.

*Grade 2 only

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 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).

*Grade 2 only


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 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.

Silent Reading Comprehension

The silent reading comprehension subtask measures how well a student understands a passage of text. Compared to the reading comprehension task, the silent reading comprehension task was based on a higher-level passage.

The student is given 3 minutes to read the passage silently to themself and then answer five comprehension questions to assess their understanding of the meaning of the passage. The assessor does not remove text from the student's eyes during the questioning, and the student is allowed to refer back to the text if desired. The score is reported as the number of questions answered correctly.

Year 2021
Grade(s) 2, 4
Language Tajik, Russian
Assessment Type National Assessment
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Read with Me Project Map

These EGR Barometer data are nationally and regionally representative of reading scores in Tajikistan. Additionally, they provide results from the endline assessment of the Read with Me project that was implemented in the regions shown below.

Map of Tajikistan

Key Findings

  • 1/3

    On average, grade 4 students can read at a fluency rate of more than one word per second.

  • 2/3

    Over half of grade 2 students in Tajikistan met the reading fluency benchmark in 2021, which was 40 correct words per minute (cwpm).

  • 3/3

    Grade 2 and 4 students in Russian schools read with more comprehension than students in Tajik schools.

Program Design

The Read with Me project was implemented by Chemonics International and aimed to improve reading outcomes for 75% of all primary grade students nationwide over the course of implementation. The project was designed to achieve this goal by:

  • improving reading instruction in grades 1-4,
  • improving access to and availability of quality materials that support the development of reading in grades 1-4,
  • increased innovations and partnerships supporting literacy outcomes,
  • increased government support to improve reading.

Read with Me sought to accomplish these goals by working with the Tajikistan Ministry of Education and Science at all levels in the system and with schools to support the improvement of reading outcomes.

The Read with Me data collections took place in spring 2018 as a baseline, spring 2019 as a midline, and spring 2021 as an endline. These EGR Barometer data serve as a nationally representative endline “snapshot” of reading performance in Tajikistan in 2021.

Evaluation Design

Read with Me drew a random sample representing the full population of schools in Tajikistan based on region, language of instruction (Russian and Tajik), and location (urban and rural). Students were randomly sampled at the class level with equal numbers of boys and girls.

Endline data collection took place in April and early May 2021 by trained assessors. A total of 202 schools were included in the study—142 in the Tajik sample and 60 in the Russian sample, given the proportionate population sizes. A total of 1,342 Tajik grade 2 students were assessed and 1,348 grade 4 students. A total of 569 Russian grade 2 students and 599 grade 4 students were assessed.

More detailed information about this implementation of EGRA, the specific measures assessed, and the sample design may be found in the Early Grade Reading Assessment, Endline Report: USAID Read with Me Project (PDF, 1.3 MB). More information about the Read with Me Project may be found in the USAID Read with Me Project, Final Report (PDF, 5.0 MB).

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