Cheers to a New Year and Higher Goals for our Students

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As 2017 comes to a close, the team in Katete West has taken the opportunity to pause, gather evidence of students’ performance and reflect closely on the goals for 2018. Through an assessment of 10% of students in the 9 Katete West Schools, the team has been able to gain a better understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses in order to provide more thoughtful support in the new year.

The assessments were largely inspired by the subtasks that make up the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Maths Assessment (EGMA), which are widely used assessment tools in Zambia and beyond. A key part of the assessment was oral reading fluency in English and Chinyanja, which is often measured by the number of correct words per minute (CWPM) that a student can read.

The Government of Zambia and USAID has set a benchmark of 20 CWPM for grade 2 students, yet in a 2015 study only 8% of students in Zambian grade 2 classes reached that benchmark and therefore a national target of 33% by 2020 was set. Impact Network’s students are already greatly exceeding this target as 50% of grade 2 students assessed could read more than 20 CWPM. This is worth celebrating!

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Another widely used indicator for literacy relates to the number of 0-scores or, how many students cannot read a single word. In the 2015 study by USAID 64% of grade 2 students scored 0 on their oral reading fluency assessments. At Impact Network schools only 14% of students assessed from grade 2 scored 0, which is great progress. However, this is still 14% too many as we would like to see the 0-scores be eliminated completely! It is important to ensure that no child is left behind during the process of learning how to read, as literacy in many ways acts as the key to other academic success.

So although Impact Network students are performing well beyond national targets and have achieved great results, there is still much to be done and new highest to strive for. The assessments have helped the team come up with many ideas for 2018 on how to address some of the challenges identified. These include tailoring teacher trainings, enabling more peer learning among teachers and considering additional initiatives to complement the curriculum in specific areas.

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2018 has many opportunities for further learning and the student assessments are only one example of how learning outcomes can drive decision making to further improve the quality of education in Impact Network schools.

Cheers to a new year and higher goals for our students- Onwards and upwards!

-Felicia