From Assessment to Action by Teaching at the Right Level
Despite having a high enrollment, children continue to struggle with basic arithmetic and language skills. Study shows, although around 95 per cent of Indian children in the age group of six to fourteen are enrolled in schools, hardly half of them can read simple text that are supposed to be taught in grade 2. The situation is even worse for arithmetic competency. In light of this, Pratham India developed and implemented the teaching-learning method titled “Teaching at the Right Level” (TaRL) with an aim to improve children’s basic learning in India.
In November 2017, The Pratham organized an information sharing workshop on TaRL method in Aurangabad, India. The representatives from the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID), a NEQMAP member, attended this workshop, along with other colleagues from PAL Network. The workshop equipped the participants with the knowledge and skills on how to use the tools and techniques to implement TaRL in the field. The workshop included a separate session on developing cost effective teaching-learning materials, what to keep in mind while developing intervention for literacy and arithmetic competency, introducing different teaching-learning materials developed for TaRL and sharing different stages of gradual development of the tools. A field visit was also organized, to visit the learning camps to get a practical overview of the TaRL model.
TaRL is an approach to pedagogical teaching method that combines both assessment and intervention in parallel to improve basic skills in literacy and arithmetic. In developing the approach, the focus was kept on the children who already reached grade 3, 4 and 5, yet lack the basic skills.
Methods designed for TaRL involves evaluating children’s basic knowledge and skills using a simple assessment tool and then grouping them according to learning level rather than age or grade. TaRL does not follow the formal school setting. It rather focuses on one-on-one interaction between instructor and child. This teaching approach mostly depends on activity-centered methods.
TaRL approach starts with a baseline assessment of the students to identify their proficiency level in language and mathematics. Students are then grouped according to their skill level and instructors provide teaching-learning interventions through different activities and play. 8-10 days “learning camp” is run periodically for three times with mid-term assessments in-between to see the level of improvement. After each mid-term assessment, the children are re-grouped based on their improvement as a result of the learning camp. This helps to boost the interest of the students to learn further and also, helps to improve the teaching materials as they can be modified to fit to the level of those who are not performing better or learning slow. This set of model can take place in the same school simultaneously for different groups over the year. This contrasts to the existing practice of teaching a set curriculum to students of a given age, irrespective of their ability to handle or understand it.
Similar to India, Bangladesh has a high enrollment rate in primary education with a high rate of dropout. According to the World Bank, net enrolment rate increased from 80 percent in 2000 to 98 percent in 2015. On the other hand, repetition and dropout rates are still high- only 50 per cent of the total enrolled students reaches grade 10. In this backdrop, IID and BRAC have jointly undertaken a study to assess the basic learning competencies of primary school going children in 2015. The study identified English and Arithmetic competencies as particular weak areas for many children. Thus, based on this finding, IID is further developing an approach that includes both assessment and intervention suitable for the rural primary schools of Bangladesh. A draft version of the model has been shared during the TaRL workshop.
Falguni Reza and Bushra Sadaf, Institute of Informatics and Development (IID)
Falguni Reza [email@example.com]
 Pratham: Improving Reading and Arithmetic Learning at Scale in India