Early Grade Reading Assessment for children with visual impairment: towards more inclusive learning in Mali

Organisation(s): Sightsavers

Date: 2020

Pages: 21 p.

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Learning assessments are essential to measure the efficiency of a teaching approach and ensure that learning is happening for every student. In Mali, the latest reading assessment using the Early Grade Reading Assessment tool was done in 2015 by RTI. The results put the spotlight on existing limitations in the teaching methodology and on the critical need to improve children’s opportunity to read by increasing print materials in classrooms and providing teachers with strategies for making use of them. These results feed into the knowledge base that is required to improve reading fluency among Malian children. In the absence of an assessment tool that is designed for their specific needs, children with visual impairment are excluded from this knowledge base. The introduction of EGRA in schools attended by visually impaired and blind students is a cornerstone of Sightsavers’ work in Mali. In 2017, Sightsavers received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop and trial a version of the EGRA for use with young people with visual impairment in Mali. As part of this grant, in 2018, Sightsavers commissioned the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) at the University of Birmingham to review available evidence on teaching pupils with visual impairment and adapting EGRA to their needs and to make recommendations on an EGRA version for Mali. This adaptation was proposed in 2018, tested by teachers and Ministry of Education officials, and then piloted in six schools in Bamako. A detailed analysis of a sample of completed assessments showed the feasibility of the application of the adapted test and produced some specific and practical recommendations to follow when applying the test, such as the need for extra time and specific environmental conditions for it to be used optimally. The pilot also yielded some fresh information about reading speeds in this group of children. There were significant variations in performance, which potentially reflect the varying standard education provision received by the children, the type of curriculum being delivered, the level and quality of home-based educational support, and the children’s levels of language development, among other things.

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