Program to raise reading comprehension in Moroccan middle schools
Feb. 12, 2015 -Middle schools students in Morocco who are struggling with reading comprehension will get a boost through a new program, Creative Associates International announced. (www.CreativeAssociatesInternational.com)
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Creative, the new program provides teachers, and the coaches who support them, with new materials and methods to strengthen critical reading comprehension skills and integrate them into everyday lessons across the curriculum, including Arabic, French, science and math classes.
“Reading opens a whole new world for children,” says Charito Kruvant, Creative’s CEO. “By reaching students at such a critical transitional stage, this new program will help adolescents develop the reading skills they need to truly reach their potential.”
In Morocco, international reading tests have shown consistently low reading performance among middle school students. Morocco’s national assessment revealed that only 25 percent of eighth grade students were able to distinguish the main idea of a basic text, and only 4 percent could summarize its content.
Middle school teachers typically lack the skills and resources needed to bring struggling students up to grade-level reading performance, and they often presume that students have already mastered reading comprehension skills by the seventh grade. This means struggling students fall further behind and may ultimately drop out of school.
The eight-and-a-half month, $1.3 million “Reading for Academic Skills and Individual Development in Middle Schools” (RASID) will work with Morocco’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to train a cohort of master trainers—including school inspectors and teacher training college instructors—on best practices to integrate effective reading comprehension instruction into existing middle school curriculum.
The master trainers will chart out action plans they will use to train educators nationwide and then—amplifying the effect of the trainings—provide ongoing coaching support as teachers bring reading comprehension strategies to life in seventh to ninth grade classes.
“Working with the Ministry to empower an expert group of master trainers, who will then carry the program forward, is one of the components that will assist the Moroccan government in reaching its goal of bringing quality reading instruction and critical reading skills to thousands of middle school students,” says Jerrold Keilson, Creative’s Vice President who oversees the Education Division.
The USAID-funded program will also support educators with a comprehensive Arabic-language Enhanced Reading Program kit for trainers, coaches and teachers. The kit includes a trainers’ guide, coaches’ guide, teachers’ guide and linkages document, which explains how reading instruction strategies can be incorporated into specific lessons in the existing middle school curriculum.
Previous education success in Morocco
Creative’s implementing team for the Reading for Academic Skills and Individual Development in Middle Schools project has three decades of experience working with the Morocco’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to improve literacy, strengthen instructional systems and enhance teachers’ skills in the classroom.
Under the Improving Training for Quality Advancement in National Education project (2009-2014), Creative’s team designed and piloted the middle school reading program, working with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and regional education centers to develop reading kits for subject teachers, train a core group of master trainers and assess student learning outcomes.
The pilot was conducted in 35 schools in eight districts in three regions. It included 79 teachers and 503 students, and was followed by the training of 200 inspectors and teacher trainers.
Follow-up tests showed gains in student reading competencies after the eight-week experiment, and teachers said that the program developed their instructional skills and provided easily adapted activities that helped them meet the diverse learning needs of their students.
“Our team has a passion for improving the quality of education and making sure every child has access to the skills they need for success,” says Keilson. “But we also have a record of achievement in Morocco, creating education programs that work, fit the context and are sustainable.”
About Creative Associates International
Creative Associates International works with underserved communities by sharing expertise and experience in education, economic growth, governance and transitions from conflict to peace.
Based in Washington, D.C., Creative has active projects in more than 15 countries. Since 1977, it has worked in nearly 90 countries and on almost every continent. Recognized for its ability to work rapidly, flexibly and effectively in conflict-affected environments, Creative is committed to generating long-term sustainable solutions to complex development problems.
Started by four enterprising women with diverse backgrounds, Creative has grown to become one of the leaders among the U.S. private sector implementers of global development projects. Creative is minority owned and operated.