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EGR Barometer data are from the USAID funded, Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Grade 2 Baseline, West Bank. One hundred and fifty schools were randomly selected from all West Bank districts for the study, stratified by gender—50 girls only schools, 50 boys only schools, and 50 co-ed schools. A total of 2,953 grade 2 students were assessed.

To better understand the state of reading instructional practices and outcomes, the West Bank EGRA included two reading passages, one without diacritics and one with diacritics. Thus, this assessment shows two versions of the EGRA subtasks outcomes for oral reading fluency (ORF) and reading comprehension—one with and one without diacritics.

EGRA Subtasks

An EGRA is a test students take that can measure their skill at both pre-reading and reading subtasks. The subtasks used in this assessment are described below.

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) without Diacritics

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. The story consisted for 57 words in formal Arabic, but without diacritics. They were asked to read it out loud “quickly but carefully” and were given 90 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. Children were scored on this ORF subtask on whether they correctly pronounced the letters in the words, regardless of what short vowels they used for the syllables (without diacritics). The score is reported as correct words per minute (cwpm).

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) with Diacritics

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. The story consisted for 57 words in formal Arabic and the words were written with diacritics for all syllables (except the final syllable). 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 80 letters with diacritics. All letters were in initial word or independent letter form with a diacritic. 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 and recorded the number of correct letter sounds per minute (clspm).

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 Arabic. All of the made-up words included diacritics on all but the final syllable and were constructed in accordance with Arabic orthography. This ensures that the student is not recognizing the whole word and must “sound-out” the non-word in order to correctly read it. Before starting the subtask, each student was instructed by the EGRA administrator to correctly read aloud three practice nonwords. Then, the student was asked to read out loud as many of the 50 nonwords 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 subtask comprised approximately equal numbers of 2-, 3- and 4-syllable words plus a small number of 1-syllable words.

The students were instructed to read aloud as many words, with their diacritics, 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, with a maximum possible score of six.

Reading Comprehension without Diacritics

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 (without diacritics) 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.

Reading Comprehension with Diacritics

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 (with diacritics) 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.

Year 2014
Grade(s) 2
Language Arabic
Assessment EGRA
Assessment Type National Assessment
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Study Map

Map of West-Bank

Key Findings

  • 1/3

    Grade 2 students had an average oral reading fluency (ORF) rate of 17 correct words per minute (cwmp) reading a passage of connected text with full diacritics; the average ORF for a passage without diacritics was 25 cwmp.

  • 2/3

    Grade 2 girls had higher average ORF scores than boys when reading passages with and without diacritics (19% vs. 14% and 29% vs. 21% respectively).

  • 3/3

    Over one-third (36%) of students were unable to answer a single comprehension question about a passage they read that included diacritics; 26% were unable to answer a single comprehension question about a similar passage without diacritics.

Assessment Details

All written components of the EGRA were in Modern Standard Arabic, including the stories and all questions in the reading comprehension and listening comprehension subtasks. All assessors asked the subtask questions and read the listening comprehension passages exactly as written in formal dialect without variance. The oral instructions given to children for each subtask, however, were explained by assessors in the home language of Palestinian dialect. These instructions were written on the instrument in formal Arabic but presented orally by the assessor, as written, in simple, vernacular Arabic. Children were asked to confirm that they fully understood the instructions before starting each subtask. Once started, no subtask was interrupted. The only comment permitted for an assessor to make was to say “go on” after three seconds to a student stalled on a specific letter or word in one of the timed subtasks.

To deepen understanding of current reading instructional practices and outcomes, the West Bank EGRA included two reading fluency passages, one without diacritics and one with diacritics. The passage with diacritics was timed at 60 seconds, while the passage without diacritics was timed at 90.

Children are taught to read without diacritics, so their performance on the oral reading passages without diacritics was better. However, any vowel sounds the child produced were accepted as correct, since the lack of diacritics meant that students did not have an explicit indication as to the vowel required and had to determine the correct vowel based on context. Therefore, the oral reading fluency score for the passage without diacritics may be imprecise, since not all vowels may have been pronounced correctly.

More detailed information can be found in Early Grade Reading Assessment Grade 2 Baseline, West Bank report.