Hello from Ghana! The last several months have been eventful for the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI), with data analysis on the last survey of pupil testing nearly completed and refresher trainings for Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs) and teachers underway across Ghana.
The preliminary results of the testing survey have shown promise for several of the TCAI interventions, with impact on basic skills in reading and math with remedial TCAs in the after-school program, and some impact on basic skills with in-school remedial TCAs, who focus on helping the weakest pupils in each class to succeed. In the after-school intervention, pupils performed 20% better than control group pupils in basic reading skills, and 10% better than the control group in basic math! Though the teacher training intervention showed limited impacts, the results have prompted further innovation and research to better understand how to help teachers reach the weakest pupils in their classes. IPA co-hosted a successful conference in May for education officials across Africa, featuring evidence from IPA-J-PAL (Jameel Poverty Action Lab) education research across the globe, during which the preliminary TCAI results were shared. The presentation of the TCAI results at the event provided a platform for discussion with other education leaders in countries across sub-Saharan Africa, all of whom are interested in leveraging innovative research to improve basic education outcomes in their own countries.
To help the TCAs, teachers, and head teachers run the program effectively, the implementation team is currently holding trainings across the country, where they reinforce the key ideas behind the TCA program and offer feedback and support to those working on the ground. Some highlights of the trainings thus far have been the instructional songs and games that engage pupils and make learning fun and accessible.
In the last few months, the evaluation team ran another round of surveying, during which we collected data on the execution of the Initiative on the ground. TCAI surveyors visited 497 of the 500 schools across all of Ghana, observing teachers and Teacher Community Assistants (TCAs), interviewing them, and taking attendance on pupils and school staff to measure different aspects of the program’s implementation and to measure pupil exposure to the treatments. This helps researchers from IPA and Ghanaian policy-makers to understand the true efficacy of the program, to gain insights into the reasons behind the test results for each treatment group and help shape future policy and programs.
The TCAI team has been working with the Ghana Education Service to review these initial results from the testing conducted in November 2011, and to integrate lessons learned from these early results into nation-wide policy. Local district-level education officials have already seized on TCAI’s central ideas – remedial instruction, targeted at the child’s actual learning level – to scale new initiatives across their own districts; in Adenta, in southern Ghana, a new program to improve basic reading skills was launched with successful early results, including a significant increase in the reading abilities of pupils across the district.
This exciting work will have a great impact on the education of children across Ghana, and with the help of donors like you, the TCAI study will continue to answer key research questions that will help governments and teachers to address the learning needs of pupils everywhere.
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