Teacher Community Assistants Can Improve Academic Performance—Study

A programme undertaken by the Ghana Education Service (GES), in partnership with the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), and the Ghana Youth Employment Development Agency (GYEDA), and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) has revealed that having Teacher Community Assistants (TCA) give targeted instructions to the lowest performing pupils significantly improved the numeracy and literacy skills of the lowest performing students.

The programme, named the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative (TCAI), was undertaken from 2011 to 2013 and involved 500 schools across 42 districts, all randomly selected. The schools were given four different types of interventions to be able to measure the impact of each of them.

The first group of schools had a TCA to provide targeted lessons to improve the literacy and numeracy of the weakest pupils from Primary 1-3 in the schools for 2 hours a day during regular school hours. The second groups of schools had a TCA performing the same role as in the first group but this time after school hours. The third group of schools had a TCA assist the teacher in order to reduce the class size. The TCAs reviewed the literacy and numeracy lessons of the teachers for a few hours. The groups of pupils were alternated daily. The final group of schools had no TCA at all. But the teachers were trained to divide pupils by ability and give them targeted lessons one hour daily.

A survey was undertaken before the interventions. Information was gathered on schools, pupils and teachers. Oral and written tests on mathematics, English and the local language was carried out. The attendance of TCAs, teachers and pupils were monitored. A survey of test scores was done in 2011 and another one was completed by July 2013.

The results of the programme showed that the greatest improvement in overall literacy and numeracy occurred in the schools which had a TCA providing targeted lessons either before or after normal school hours. The impacts in test scores were smaller in schools which had a TCA assist the teacher and the least impact was measured in schools which had no TCA at all.

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