Task Order 20: Measurement and Research Support to Education Strategy Goal 1
Applying Lessons from Behavior Change Communications to the Design of an Intervention Promoting Family and Community Support for Learning to Read
This report discusses two overarching themes for the behavior change communication (BCC) activity under Education Data for Decision Making (EdData II), Task Order 20. The author begins by presenting a summary of pertinent health behavior theories and studies, which aim to inform the BCC activity and suggest possible techniques and strategies that can be applied to the education sector. The author then moves to describing a proposed applied research study, which will use the results of the health behavior studies to develop a possible model to be used for implementing a literacy intervention in a developing country. Ensuring that all school-aged children enroll in and complete primary school has been a key goal of the “Education for All” movement since it was officially launched in 2000. As data on learning outcomes have become more available over the last decade, increased attention has been given to whether children enrolled in school are acquiring basic skills, such as learning to read.
As the early grade reading assessment (EGRA) and similar methodologies for assessing foundational literacy skills1 proliferated, the data they generated showed alarmingly poor levels of reading among students in the first few years of primary school. Further, despite enrollment in school for several years, many children were not learning to read at all. Basic skills such as recognizing letters, correctly pronouncing letter sounds, or reading familiar words, which can and should be learned in the first year of school, were also poorly developed among far too many children (Gove & Cvelich, 2010). Designing and implementing programs to improve the teaching and learning of reading in the early grades of primary school is now a major focus of governments, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Perhaps the boldest example of this effort is the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) goal of improving the reading skills of 100 million children by 2015. Encouragingly, the programs described below were designed to help improve reading instruction in several countries and are showing promising results.
- Pratham’s Read India Program runs summer camps that improve students’ learning levels for reading Hindi and performing math (Walton& Banerji, 2011).
- Save the Children’s Literacy Boost Program is improving letter knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension in Ethiopia, Nepal, Malawi, and Pakistan. In Ethiopia, Literacy Boost increased students’ letter knowledge by 17% over.