Learning within Learning: DevTech strengthens local capacities to improve evaluation of Early Grade Reading in multicultural contexts on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua

Through its Community Action for Reading and Security (CARS) Activity, DevTech has increased efforts to improve the assessment of early grade reading. The CARS Activity has introduced the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) methodology to the Caribbean Coast and in doing so has strengthened the capacities of both Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) and Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense (URACCAN) to evaluate learner outcomes. Recently university staff from both BICU and URACCAN conducted the endline EGRA to assess students served by the CARS Activity in eight municipalities of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast. In Nicaragua, twenty-one percent of Grade 1 students repeat the year or drop out of school all together because they are not able to master core early grade reading skills. As a result, improving reading performance in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is a challenge. Over the last 4 years, more than 130 people, of which more than 60 percent are women, have been trained in how to conduct and use EGRAs to assess students’ performance in reading skills. In comparison to the traditional reading exercise, where teachers correct students as they read individual words, EGRA provides more rigorous data on students’ abilities in foundational reading skills such as letter sound knowledge and decoding that are building blocks for later success in reading. Under the CARS Activity, learners from first to third grade in multilingual and multicultural contexts were assessed. The EGRA was administered in Spanish and Miskitu, yielding reading analyses and feedback to teachers and other stakeholders to enhance the reading ability of indigenous, afro-descendant, and mestizo children. The results are being used both to assess the Activity’s impact on Early Grade Reading Performance and to influence evidence-based policies for the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.

Local university staff, applying Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), to third grader of Rafaela Herrera Primary school, October 2019, Kahkabila, RACCS. (Photo: BICU/Oswaldo Guerra)
EpC Participants, El consuelo community, municipality of Kukra Hill

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