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The Results Are In: Teaching at the Right Level Leads to Major Improvements in Students' Numerac

“Teaching at the Right Level has the potential to transform education in this country.” -Simon Coles, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of basic Education.

In November we concluded our final round of Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) for 2018. TaRL is a cost-effective remediation program designed to support students who have fallen behind in basic literacy and numeracy skills over a 30-day intervention period. Young 1ove has signed a four-year MoU with the Ministry of Basic Education to scale up TaRL across all primary schools in Botswana, in partnership with UNICEF. This year, Young 1ove-trained facilitators implemented the program with 14 schools in the South-East region.

Before each 30-day TaRL intervention, Young 1ove facilitators assess students’ ability to do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and assign students to groups according to their operation-level (rather than age or grade). Each day, facilitators use fun and engaging level-appropriate activities designed to improve numeracy. At the conclusion of the intervention, students are re-assessed to determine any learning gains they experienced whilst participating in TaRL.

This implementation round, we streamlined our data collection by going digital. Digital data collection made the analysis process easier and enabled us to develop systems for real-time feedback to allow facilitators to improve and tailor their instruction.

Our results show major improvements in students learning outcomes. The percentage of students that were innumerate and could not perform operations decreased from 20% of students, to only 4% of students. The percentage of students that reached TaRL numeracy (defined as able to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) went from 7% to 53% of students. We found that 80% of students learned at least one new operation.

The facilitators driving these incredible outcomes first implemented TaRL in June and July. In the previous round, there were only four schools and the implementation blocks were cut short by school holidays. This round, due to the higher number of schools and students, the facilitators took on greater responsibilities.

Facilitator Martin Mabifhi explained the drastic changes and challenges posed by implementing in more than twice as many schools, “Comparing this round of implementation with the last in July, it was totally different. Earlier this year we had many facilitators in the same school. This round we had to divide ourselves. We had about two to three facilitators in each school and our responsibilities were on another level! There was no more hand holding and we did what we had to do.”

As our facilitators gain more experience and our training team becomes better equipped to capacitate and support facilitators, each round of implementation shows better results. This round we learned that digital data collection facilitated better data analysis and rapid feedback, and saw our strongest results to date. Our ultimate goal is to build and strengthen systems for scale as we grow the movement and reach more schools in more regions with Teaching at the Right Level in 2019.

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