We at READ for Life recently completed our big round of Early Grade Reading Assessments (EGRA) in 85 primary schools in Gulu municipal. READ for Life staff and a team of much-valued volunteers went to every primary school in town and tested children’s reading in the first three years of primary school from a random sample. These results primarily will help us to prioritise our teacher and school support for next year, but also help us to see fruits of our labour and which schools are making good progress.
Our team on the ground in Gulu is still collating the test results (there’s a fair bit of data inputting to do) but one of the huge success stories so far comes from Cubu Primary School. Last year Cubu Primary School was a ‘control school’, this means that we didn’t train the teachers. This year, however, we included them in our ‘treatment’ schools and schools we are working with and trained the teachers at the end of first term.
I remember very clearly when one of our volunteers was out at this school giving the reading test to 15 random children from the first three classes in primary. She messaged me telling me she was crying! With tears of joy to hear the children read so well!
Last year P3 children could read six age-appropriate words in one minute – that’s about one word every 10 seconds. Pretty slow and way below age-expected reading targets. Measuring how many words children can read in one minute is a great indicator of their reading fluency and some of their key literacy skills. This primary school came last place out of 75 schools tested last year. Last year P2 children read an average of one word a minute and P1 children couldn’t read a single word.
This year… drum roll… P3 children at Cubu Primary School can now read an average of 51.5 words per minute – that’s tremendous progress! P2 pupils went from one word to 17.7 words and P1 entered the reading table at 2.2 words per minute.
According to research, comprehension begins between 45 and 60 words per minute. P3 children were far from understanding what they could read at the beginning of the year – but now they are well on their way to becoming fluent, independent readers!
We are so proud of the infant teachers for implementing what we have taught them and doing such a marvellous job! We’re not exactly sure where Cubu Primary will sit on our ‘reading league table’ this year, but pretty confident they won’t be at the bottom.
Our volunteer, Kelsey, who was testing the children’s reading asked Cubu Primary teachers what teaching reading was like since we had trained them, some of their responses were:
We were training reading using the cramming method and that does not help the children. We were trained by you (READ for Life) and immediately, we started to work using phonics. That practice really helped us and the children! We work every morning because practice makes perfect!