This week in rural Zambia, we are preparing to conduct student assessments at each of the 9 community schools. The assessments will take place next week, but the timing makes things a little more challenging because next week is also exam week. Luckily, our Implementation Specialist, Felicia, has been an amazing leader by getting everyone on board and plowing forward in high spirits.
We will be using the USAID Early Grade Reading (EGRA) and Early Grade Math assessments (EGMA) used around the world to identify specific problem areas in literacy and numeracy. The assessments will be carried out by our dynamic team consisting of the Operations Manager, 2 Teacher Supervisors, the grade 7 teachers, and the Life Skills and Sexuality teachers. We had 2 days of training at Joel with a bit of last minute exam sorting and checking thrown into the program.
During the training, Felicia explained the purpose and importance of this endeavor as well as how each of us can benefit from participating. She also emphasized important aspects like making sure students feel comfortable during the assessment to get better outcomes. Everyone had the chance to actually practice administering the assessment on each other and then later to students in Joel before we venture out to other schools next week. The results from that small sample were very helpful. Many students could read fluently in English, but when it came to answering questions about the reading, they had more challenges with the comprehension. This along with the data from other schools will allow us to set targets for next year and plan accordingly on what specific areas to focus on.
The team will be divided into 3 smaller groups. What I love is that the role of team leader has been assigned to a grade 7 teacher on each team. Rather than giving the roles to other management staff, they have been given the opportunity to further their own leadership skills. Expectations were set very high on the first day, and I suspect many had doubts and possibly felt overwhelmed at the scope of the project. On day 2 of training the leaders arrived sharply dressed and I noticed that throughout the day they had in fact stepped-up by contributing to discussions and debriefs, and leading logistical planning sessions for next week. Like the teachers, this is also my first experience with EGRA and EMRA, so I’m excited to learn new skills in data collection and data analysis. I’ll be with a couple of different teams providing support and I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything pans out. I’m certain that challenges will arise, but Felicia has done a great job of instilling in the team confidence and positivity.
To Be Continued….