Multi-grade Teaching: The Latin
American Experience
South Asia Regional Conference on
Education Quality
New Delhi, India
October 24-26, 2007
Eduardo Velez
Sector Manager for Education
Human Development Sector
Latin America and the Caribbean
Rural Education…a global challenge
In Latin America is a challenge because:
-20% enroll late
-About 40% repeat 1st grade and about 25% repeat 2nd
grade (repetition in primary education represent a
waste of about $3.5 billion annually and together with
late entry create high heterogeneity in ages of children
in the classroom and this limits learning, specially
when traditional methods are used)
-Average schooling is about 4.5 years
-Roughly half of the kids in 4th grade can’t read
However, basic education in rural
areas in LAC, like everywhere else
- raises incomes and reduces poverty
-helps to sustain economic growth (a minimum
level of human capital is required for this)
-is not sufficient for any modern economy, but
a necessary first step to get there
-has important externalities: lower fertility,
better child health, ‘human capabilities’ (Sen)
Net Enrollment Rate in Primary Education
Source: UNESCO
Rural Education in LAC…and quality
Why we still have the gap in basic education?
-Not enough resources
-Inadequate use of resources
-Bad quality:
Low learning
Late entry, high repetition and dropout
-Focus on coverage not enough, quality is key
Rural Education…and quality
Why low quality? (1)
-Traditional expository methodology: emphasis on
memorization and not in comprehension skills
-Limited amount of time in first grades to learn basic skills
-Cultural barriers in transition from home to school mainly in
minority areas
-Lack of text books and learning guides for students and
teachers that are appropriate with active methodologies and that
respond to the diversity within the classroom (specially different
learning rhythms)
-Rigid calendars, promotion and evaluation systems
-Insufficient time for effective learning, specially in language
and in math
Rural Education…and quality
Why low quality? (2)
-Overloaded curriculum and not related to student’s
environment
-Ineffective and inadequate pre- and in-service training for
teachers
-High percentage of incomplete schools where teachers have
not received training nor material to deal with the situation
-Few teachers have been trained in active teaching process
-Schools located in isolated areas do not attract qualified
teachers
-Permanent transfers of rural teachers to urban areas
Rural Education…and quality
Why low quality? (3)
Students:
-Under-nourished children
-Health problems
-Inadequate psycho-social development (little
exposure to ECD)
-Lack of motivation and support for learning (from
families)
Then…what to do?
What can be done to correct these problems in rural education?
1. Schools must be adapted to function more effectively
2. Student learning skills before entering primary education must
be improved
3. Flexible and open programs for children and out-of-school
youth
4. Organization of planning, management and monitoring
mechanism at the local level must be created
5 Advocacy, social mobilization, community participation and
stimulation of demand for quality education must be
promoted
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
A proposal to improve rural education. An agreement among
Ministers of Education in LAC
-Need to view the school as a fundamental unit of change.
Effectiveness of improving policies is largely determined by school
factors
-Need to change teaching and learning practices (improving classroom
teaching practices demands a profound revision of basic education in light of the
new education paradigm centered on the child as an active subject who
participates in his own learning process). Improvement of student learning
is central challenge for education policy
-Change the role of the teacher (not simply transmitter of
information) New type of school with renovated teaching methods,
different learning rhythms and styles.
--Need for more personalized and group learning; the lack of
flexibility of the traditional frontal teaching limits learning process,
specially in poor schools
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Objectives for the student in a new
school
1.Develop a child-centered active and participative
learning process
2.Develop higher level thinking skills
3.Advance at their own pace in learning
4.Develop activities of tolerance, solidarity and
cooperation
5.Improve learning achievement
6.Improve self-esteem
7.Gender equity in participation in school activities
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Objectives for the teachers in a new
school
1.Improve teaching practices
2.Modify their role from expository to facilitating roles
with permanent interaction with their student
3.Positive attitudes towards the pedagogical strategy
4.Satisfaction with their work
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Objectives for the administrators in a new
school
1.Change the role from traditional supervisory functions
to a more pedagogical support and advisor to teachers
2.Positive attitudes towards the pedagogical methodology
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Objectives for the community in a new
school
1.Strengthen the relationship between the school and the
community
2.Promote the participation of parents in the different
activities of the school
3. Articulate curriculum content with the family and the
community
4. Serve as information center for the community
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Objectives for the educational system in a new
school
1.Offer complete quality primary education
2.Reduce repetition and drop out rates
3.Improve learning achievement
4.Improve equity
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Two fundamental assumptions for the implementation
of the new school reform
1.Introducing changes at the level of the student implies
innovation in the teacher training, the administrative
structure of the school and its relationship with the
community. This requires specific strategies for children,
teachers, administrative personnel and the community
2.It is indispensable, from the beginning, to develop
mechanisms that are replicable, decentralized and feasible
from a technical, political and financial standpoint. The
design of the system has to include strategies to go to scale
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school
(1)
1.It offers full primary education at multi-grade schools
where one, two or three teachers handle several grades
simultaneously
2.It benefits students, teachers, administrators and
communities through its four interrelated components:
curriculum process, teacher training, school administration
and school-community articulation
3.It uses classroom teaching materials proven to have a
positive impact on learning, such as textbooks, classroom
libraries and learning corners
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school (2)
4.It moves from traditional lecture-based teaching towards a
new method based on comprehension and non-rote learning,
that respect different students’ learning paces, on the
teacher’s role as a facilitator and evaluator, and on
participation and cooperative learning
5.It encourages strategies of ‘learning by doing’, such as
student government to teach democracy, participation and
civil responsibilities, social skills to promote habits of
collaboration, companionship, solidarity, and tolerance.
Children learn to act responsibly in organizing and
managing the school through committees, and to comply
with work plans
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school (3)
6.Numerous evaluations have shown that the quality of
education can be improved despite a school’s limitations in
terms of resources
7.It gives teachers an opportunity for horizontal
participation through teaching workshops or study circles
for training and follow-up
8.Teachers receive in-service training at sequenced
workshops providing firsthand experience with
methodologies similar to those they will apply with their
students. Training is decentralized, replicable and
continuous
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school
(4)
9.Students learn to be active, creative, participatory and
responsible. Develop capacity to communicate, to think
creatively, to analyze and, above all, to apply what they
learn at school in the family and community
10.Students use an active methodology that allows them to
learn by doing and through play. This helps them to solve
problems in daily life
11.Children work in small groups facilitating cooperative
learning and systematic interaction, It also favors a
collective building of knowledge and tutorial support
between students
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school
(5)
12.It offers learning guides to help students acquire the basic
lessons included in the curriculum. The guides are designed
to promote participatory methodology with a learning
process focused on the student. The teacher acts as a
facilitator
13.The classroom becomes an area for dynamic and active
work, developed with all available resources and through
cooperative activities and student government
14.Study topics proposed in the guides are related to
student’s way of life and that of their communities
Multi-grade (the New School approach)
Features of the
new school
(6)
15.Promotion is flexible and respect each student’s pace of
learning.Repetition is eliminated. Children are able to study
and help their parents with domestic chores or productive
activities like harvesting without jeopardizing the quality of
their education and without having to drop out of school
16.The school operates as an in information center and a
force for community integration. Parents take part in school
activities and the school supports activities of benefit to the
community. There are specific instruments to help the
teacher understand the community and to build its
relationship with the school. COMMUNITY,
COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY
Multi-grade (What is the New School approach?)
Multi-grade (What is the New School approach?
Basic education innovation developed in Colombia
Set out to address all the nested factors of education
simultaneously, rather than ineffectively tackling each in
isolation
Systemically integrates curricular, in-service training
and follow up, community and administrative strategies
Guarantees access and quality of basic education
Evolved from a local and state innovation to a national
policy - implementation in most rural schools of
Colombia (20,000 at the end of the 80´s.)
What does the New School approach promote?
Child centered, participatory, cooperative and selfpaced learning
Relevant curriculum based on children's daily life
Flexible calendar, promotion and grading systems
Closer, stronger relationship between the school
and the community
Emphasis on the formation of democratic and
participatory values
What does the New School approach promotes?
Effective and practical in-service teacher
training strategies
New role for the teacher
New generation of interactive self paced, self
directed learning textbooks
Who does the New School approach benefit?
Children, teachers, administrative staff and community
through its four interrelated components, integrated at
the school and community level in SYNERGY
Curricular
Component
Teacher training
Component
SYSTEM
Administrative
Component
Community
Component
The New School Reform - Empirical
Evidence
• Multi-grade school reform is recommended by
international organizations based on positive research
findings (for many cases –rural isolated areas- is the
only option!)
• Improved academic achievement, higher propensity to
remain in school, and other outcomes such as
democratic attitudes
• Remaining issues: Absence of experimental research
(selection bias, internal validity); definition of multigrade schools; causal inference; etc.
The quality of education in Colombia is close to the average
270
265
Brasil
260
255
Score
Argentina
Chile
Average
250
Colombia
245
240
235
230
225
Bolivia
Honduras
Mexico
Paraguay
Venezuela
Dominican Republic
220
2000
4000
6000
8000
10000
12000
14000
16000
Per capita income USD $
Source: UNESCO. First Comparative International Study on
Quality of Education, 1999.
Rural schools in Colombia have better quality than urban schools
Cuba
260
255
Colombia
Rural Score
Rural score
250
Brazil
Average
245
240
235
Dominican
Republic
Argentina
Chile
Mexico
Paraguay
230
225
220
230
Venezuela
Bolivia
Honduras
235 240 245
250
255
260
265
270
275
280
Urban score
Source: UNESCO. First Comparative International Study on
Quality of Education, 1999.
In rural education, in math only Cuba’s scores are above
Colombia’s
270
Cuba
Mathematics
260
Colombia
250
Argentina
Brasil
240
Bolivia
Mexico
230
Paraguay
Chile
Dominican Republic
220
Venezuela
Honduras
210
210
215
220
225
230
235
240
245
250
255
Language
Source: UNESCO. First Comparative International Study on
Quality of Education, 1999.
260
EXPLAINING NONCOGNITIVE SCORES
Independent Variables
Student characteristics:
Age
Male
Works
Creativity
Civics
Self-Esteem
1.307 *
1.337 *
.899 *
.140
-1.426 *
-.919 **
.829 **
-.947 **
.111
Repeater
Hours watching TV
-2.075 *
-.264
-2.092 *
-.438 *
-2.190 *
.214
Family characteristics:
Poor region
N of books at home
-.438
.580
-1.564 *
.291
.627
2.138 *
TV at home
Radio at home
Homework help
2.176 *
.403
-.518
2.431 *
-.055
.522
-.097
1.019 *
.038
1.249 *
.014
1.446 *
.575
-.004
-1.599 *
School characteristics:
Escuela Nueva
Student-teacher ratio
Electricity access
N of supervisory visits
Teacher characteristics:
Female
Years of experience
Education university graduate
Lives in school
Pay scale
Constant
R
2
N
* Statistically significant at the 1% level or better.
* Statistically significant at the 5% level.
Escuela Nueva Study in Colombia.
.336
.007
2.865 *
.076 **
-1.667 *
.081 *
.982
3.144 *
.610 *
-.006
.017
-.015
.086 **
.677
-.063
.711 *
-3.110 *
1.489 *
.013
1.209 *
.099
27.633
33.019
40.709
.163
.124
.067
2,519
2,330
2,372
EXPLAINING EDUCATIONAL OUTPUT SCORES WITHIN GRADES (MATH)
Independent Variables
Grade 3
Grade 5
.175
.005
Student characteristics:
Age
Male
Works
Repeater
Hours watching TV
Family characteristics:
Poor region
N of books at home
TV at home
Radio at home
Homework help
School characteristics:
Escuela Nueva
Student-teacher ratio
Electricity access
N of supervisory visits
Teacher characteristics:
Female
Years of experience
1.264 **
.232
-1.581 *
-.021
-1.219 **
-.224
.003
-.823
1.710 *
1.638 **
.741
.157
.705
.469
.001
-.776
.968
3.110 *
-.132 *
1.173
-.070
-.673
.086 **
.541
.004
1.705 **
-.068
-1.301
.180 *
University graduate
4.453 *
4.418 *
Lives in school
1.774 *
3.337 *
.209
.070
45.738
43.483
.102
.081
1,480
1,025
Pay scale
Constant
R
1.134 **
2
N
* Statistically significant at the 1% level or better.
* Statistically significant at the 5% level.
Escuela Nueva Study in Colombia.
SPANISH ACHIEVEMENT AS A FUNCTION OF STUDENT, FAMILY, TEACHER, & SCHOOL VARIABLES
Grade 3
Independent Variables
Student characteristics:
New School
Student / teacher ratio
Electricity access
Located in Valle
Located in Cauca
(Located in Narino)
Principal characteristics:
Female
University completed
Years of administrative experience
Teacher characteristics:
Male
Years teaching subject
University completed
Monthly salary
Hours subject taught per week
B
Grade 5
T
3.82 ***
0.03
4.55 ***
3.84 ***
1.42
4.34
0.62
3.58
3.68
1.36
2.45 ***
-3.25 ***
0.16 ***
3.01
-3.78
2.69
3.04 ***
0.09
-1.24
0.00002 ***
-0.48
3.77
1.54
-1.02
2.03
-1.59
1.98 *
3.73 ***
3.34 ***
1.73
3.83
3.97
B
2.35 *
-0.06
4.25 ***
-0.20
0.69
2.51 *
0.89
0.12
0.87
-0.09
.030
0.000003
0.80 **
T
1.82
-0.66
2.60
-0.15
0.55
1.84
0.89
1.52
0.62
-1.01
0.02
0.25
2.14
Family characteristics:
Family member is university graduate
Family member is secondary graduate
Family member is primary graduate
(None of the above)
Electricity access
TV in home
-1.71
0.74
-1.42
0.80
-2.58 *
2.23 **
-1.65
2.23
Student characteristics:
Female
Age
Works
Repeated at least 1 grade
≥ 6 absences this year
≥ 1 hour TV / day
≥ 1 school attended
≥ 1 hour homework / day
0.98
0.38
-1.18
-3.04
-1.96
1.60
-1.21
0.92
1.40
1.40
-1.66
-4.02
-1.93
2.12
-1.53
1.29
-0.99
-0.17
-2.97 ***
-2.08 **
-0.91
1.02
1.66 *
1.08
-1.13
-0.50
-3.31
-2.37
-0.60
1.13
1.72
1.29
Constant
R
2
Adjusted R
N
2
*
***
*
**
0.40
0.80
0.34
34.82
42.8
0.25
0.11
0.22
673
0.07
557
Note: (***) indicates statistically significant at 1 percent.
(**) indicates statistically significant at 5 percent.
(*) indicates statistically significant at 10 percent.
B is the unstandardized OLS coefficient and T is the T statistic.
All hypothesis tests are two-tailed.
Standard errors are calculated with White's Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix (White 1980).
0.23
0.56
0.28
PREDICTED DROPOUT PROBABILITY BY GRADE
Independent Variables
Logit Coefficients
Grade 3
Grade 5
Age
.139*
-.119**
Male
.546*
.330**
Works
Repeater
.112
-.320
.912*
.036
Poor region
Escuela Nueva
.061
.247
-.317
-.306**
-2 log likelihood
776.014
991.307
1,698
6.2
1,202
17.4
N
Mean dependent variable
* Statistically significant at the 1% level or better.
* Statistically significant at the 5% level.
Escuela Nueva Study in Colombia.
Results from different statistical analysis confirm:
Superior achievements of children of Escuela
Nueva
Significant reduction in drop out and repetition
rates
Improvement in self-esteem and civic behavior
 The National Planning Department of Colombia
concluded:
“Escuela Nueva compensates for socio economic
limitations when comparing children of Escuela Nueva
of socio economic level 1 with socio economic level 2.”
The New School approach in
Guatemala
80
70
60
50
% 40
30
20
10
0
NEU
EUT
Turns
Lead
Feedback
Comparative Study on Demoracratic Behavior in Guatemala –
AED/Juarez and Associates (R.Chesterfield)
Adaptation of the New School
approach to Urban Populations
1998: ENF implemented the Model in 20 low-income schools
of Bogotá, identified with the poorest academic
performance in a local standardized test
After two years of ENF intervention, an evaluation led by
National University of Colombia confirmed an increment in
language skills of 40.36% and in math of 69%
These schools, with lowest ranking in the city among 2,500
centers evaluated, performed better than the city's average
Adaptation of the New School
approach to Displaced Populations
5,745 indirectly benefited, including parents and
community members
As it began, 55% of the children were excluded
from the school system; after one year of
intervention there was a 100% enrollment
After UNESCO evaluations, children of EN learning
circles obtained the highest level of improvement in
both language and mathematics
(36.1% for language and 30.4% for mathematics.)
Adaptation of the New School
approach to Displaced Populations
5th grade children of the learning circles are 17.3 points
above the national average, with a score of 69.3 in math
and 13.9 in language. (83.6% and 69.7% respectively.)
Children’s self esteem was improved by 18.5 %.
When the intervention began in May 2004, 76% had
normal self esteem, 22% low and 2% very low.
By November, 94.5 % of the children had normal self
esteem, 5.52 % low and none required therapeutic
attention.
Adaptation of the New School
approach to Displaced Populations
Posiciones Relativas en Lenguaje
Quinto Grado
Promedio Nacional 69,7
100.0
85.0 82,7 83.6
90.0
80.0
70.0
71.30
65.2
60.0
50.0
47.5
36.1
40.0
30.0
19.8
20.0
11.40
10.0
0.0
Rendimiento prueba en
Abril
%
Rendimiento prueba en
Noviembre
%
Aulas demostrativas
Aulas grupos control
Avance Entre
Aplicaciones
%
Circulos de aprendizaje
Adaptation of the New School
approach to Displaced Populations
Posiciones Relativas en Matematicas
Quinto Grado
Promedio Nacional 52,0
69.3
72.0
61.8
62.0
52.0
42.0
51,8
51.3
44.6
38.9
30.4
32.0
17.2
22.0
12.0
0.5
2.0
Rendimiento prueba Rendimiento prueba
Promedio avance
en Abril
% en Noviembre
entre aplicaciones %
%
Aulas demostrativas
Aulas grupo control
Circulos de aprendizaje
Key Factors Included in the New
Approach (1)
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Democratic values, including student leadership
Community involvement
Individualized and small group instruction
Local content (and cultural sensibility)
Active learning and teacher as a facilitator
Learning centers and classroom libraries
Student guidelines
Student workbooks and teacher handbooks
Local control (and national commitment)
Key Factors Included in the New
Approach (2)
•
•
•
•
•
•
Cooperative learning
Peer tutoring
Self-instruction
Flexible promotion
Integrated versus additive approach
Bottom-up Successful experiences maintained
by teachers or grass-roots NGOs.
• The student as the center of attention!!!!
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