LITERACY AND EDUCATIONAL QUALITY IMPROVEMENT IN ETHIOPIA: A MIXED METHODS STUDY
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This study examines the development of early grade reading skills as a means for quality improvement in global education. Specifically, this study explores the contextual factors that affect the achievement of early reading skills in Ethiopia and investigates the relationship between literacy and educational quality. The sequential explanatory mixed-methods design is employed to answer four research questions: 1. According to the Ethiopia Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) dataset in the Addis Ababa region, what contextual factors affect achievement in basic literacy skills and how are they related? 2. According to qualitative data, how do parents' and teachers' perspectives explain and substantiate the contextual factors identified in the EGRA dataset and do other factors emerge? 3. Given the answers to the first two research questions, what are the factors associated with achievement that are most favorable and most challenging for literacy development? 4. Given the answer to the third research question, how can interventions for literacy development be best implemented in relationship to overall educational quality improvement? The first, quantitative phase of this study shows that a vast majority of students do not perform at expected levels on the Ethiopia EGRA. The results from three multiple regression analysis models for oral reading fluency and reading comprehension outcomes suggest that both in-school and out-of-school variables have a significant influence on student achievement. The second, qualitative phase of this study reveals several important findings above and beyond those identified in Phase I. First, the findings from both Phase I and Phase II demonstrate the importance of out-of-school variables, but the importance of these to both teachers and parents was underestimated in Phase I. School directors, parents, and teachers highlight the home environment as the most important factor in student achievement. This study demonstrates the utility of a mixed-methods approach to investigate more holistically the practice of literacy in Ethiopia and its relationship to the pursuit of educational quality more broadly. This study also provides a responsive, critical, and theoretical grounding for understanding conflicting perspectives, policies, and approaches to improving the quality of education through literacy development.