A free electronic tool is now available to quickly and accurately measure the reading progress of young children in the developing world. An adaptation of USAID’s paper-based Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), the new tool called eEGRA runs in Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software, available free on most computers. The new tool was demonstrated for international literacy experts and policymakers March 13th, at the Washington offices of Education Development Center (EDC) which developed eEGRA.

eEGRA puts valid, reliable reading results into the hands of teachers. Photo Credit: Rojessa Tiamson-Saceda

One of the benefits of eEGRA is that results are available immediately after a student has completed a test, instantly providing the classroom teacher or headmaster with a snapshot of the student’s reading progress. By comparison, data from the paper test can take six months to analyze, and because it is developed at the national or district level, is rarely seen or used by teachers.

In addition, the electronic test automates time calculations and restricts data entry mistakes by eliminating the need to interpret hand-written scores. It also standardizes the delivery of test instructions via audio playback, ensuring all students receive the same information. Because it is in electronic format, eEGRA uses less paper and comes with the capability to back up and save data.

“We are already finding that eEGRA is revolutionizing how we assess the reading skills of young children,” said EDC Vice President Nancy Devine. “It allows teachers to identify whether students have developed key skills for their grade level, and this in turn allows them to identify what remediation efforts, if any, are required. eEGRA directly links assessment and classroom practice.”

First conceptualized in 2009, eEGRA was developed for an Excel platform in the spring of 2010, and then field tested in the Philippines. That field study established that eEGRA scores learners as accurately as its paper-based counterpart and the use of a laptop does not inhibit testing. eEGRA was first presented at USAID’s M4Ed4Dev conference in August 2010 and has been available free and in open-source format since that time. To date, it has been used by development partners to assess student learning in three countries, in three languages.

“We continue to refine the tool with new features and improved performance,” said EDC’s Helen Boyle. “Our ultimate goal is to put reliable, valid reading assessments into the hands of teachers around the globe, enabling them to deliver more effective instruction to their students.”

Click here to learn more or download and begin using the free assessment tool.