Home > Resources > Task Order 15: Data for Education Programming in Asia and the Middle East (DEP/AME): Nepal Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Study Report

Task Order 15: Data for Education Programming in Asia and the Middle East (DEP/AME): Nepal Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Study Report

Executive Summary
The Nepal Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) Study provided a nationally representative
assessment of the reading skills of Grade 2 and Grade 3 students in Nepal public schools across
all ecobelts. The study was designed to provide a useful baseline or benchmark by which the
effectiveness of the upcoming national reading program could be measured using the following
five subtasks in Nepali: listening comprehension, letter knowledge, Matra knowledge, invented
word decoding, and oral passage reading. The Nepal EGRA addressed four main research
questions that were agreed upon in consultation with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and its
stakeholders. These questions are as follows:
1. To what extent are students in Grades 2 and 3 learning to read in Nepali?
2. What reading-related skills are students in Grades 2 and 3 acquiring?
3. What factors—both in-school and out-of-school—help explain student performance on
the EGRA?
4. How well do teachers understand a written explanation of a proposed Early Grade
Reading Program?
The EGRA training took place in January 2014 and the pilot data collection occurred the first
week of February 2014. The full field data collection took place several weeks later in February
and March.
Results from the study show that by Grade 3, most students were demonstrating basic reading
skills. However, 19% of third graders and 37% of second graders still could not read a single
word of a short passage. Average reading fluency in Grade 3 was much higher than in Grade 2,
indicating that a year in school is associated with an increase in reading skills. Students in
Grades 2 and 3 performed well on the letter sound knowledge subtask, which means they were
acquiring the understanding of the alphabetic principle. However, their performance on syllable
reading and nonword subtasks was lower than expected for each grade level, with a large
percentages of students, especially in Grade 2, scoring zero on these subtasks. Poor performance
in these skill areas usually indicates that instruction does not sufficiently emphasize decoding
strategies. Girls and boys performed equally well across all subtasks, showing no significant
gender disparity in typical Nepali classrooms in the early grades
Concerning students’ ability to read, results suggest that home language is an important factor
that must be adequately addressed in the first few years of primary school. The Terai ecobelt had
the lowest mean scores and the highest zero scores compared to all other ecobelts and had a
majority of students report speaking a language other than Nepali. These results on basic reading
suggest that more focused instruction is needed early in the primary cycle to more quickly build
literacy-related skills and reading ability. It may therefore be worthwhile to offer specific
additional learning opportunities for students who continue to struggle with oral comprehension
of Nepali.
Relative socioeconomic status (SES) of a child’s family also correlated with reading
performance, with Grade 2 students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile obtaining a mean oral
reading fluency score equivalent to half that of those in the highest quartile. Fortunately, the
difference in mean oral reading fluency scores across socioeconomic quartiles was lower among
Grade 3 students, suggesting that more time in school was helping students from less wealthy
families begin to catch up to better off students. Nonetheless, schools would do well to recognize
the needs of disadvantaged students and intervene earlier to help them address their challenges.
Several in-school factors also demonstrated significant, positive correlations with reading
performance. These included aspects of teachers’ reading instructional practices, school practices
that support reading remediation, parent-teacher association support for reading, and the
availability of teaching and learning materials. These findings suggest that certain aspects of
school management, instruction, and school support from communities are important factors to
address when rolling out an early grade reading program.
The last component of this study addressed how well teachers understood a written explanation
of a proposed early grade reading program. Results showed that a majority of teachers were able
to read the passage and successfully answer most of the questions asked about it, indicating that
most teachers had reading and comprehension abilities that would enable them to process
information written at a secondary school level. While a small minority of teachers seemed to
need help processing overly complex written information, the results pointed to the promise of
designing written materials and professional development courses to introduce new instructional
strategies for the teaching of reading, as teachers already are able to read well with
comprehension. Also, materials in which teachers are asked to read and implement a lesson can
be designed and provided with confidence in teachers’ ability to comprehend the instructions and


Date Published: 
Saturday, June 21, 2014
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