Is TaRL right for my context?
Are children lacking foundational reading and mathematics skills?
If many children are unable to read, recognise numbers, or carry out basic sums, TaRL might be an appropriate intervention to increase learning in that context. This is especially true if there are few opportunities for children to learn basic skills after Grade 2. To determine the status of learning levels for children in Grades 3 to 5, a simple testing tool can be created to test a sample of learners in the area.
Are classes fairly heterogeneous?
Does the government prioritise learning and basic skills?
Do current education systems mainly serve top performing learners?
Do children take a high-stakes examination at the end of primary school with few basic competencies being tested? Do teachers struggle to get through dense and ambitious curricula? Are children automatically progressed to the next grade without ensuring that they have basic skills? An unintended consequence of over-ambitious curricula, materials, and testing is education systems which tend to serve top performing learners, often resulting in children being left behind. TaRL programmes can be effective in these education systems as the approach reorganises the classroom to ensure that all children (not just those at the top) are being supported. TaRL helps teachers to refocus class time on the needs of the learners – by grouping learners according to levels and by providing training and ongoing support to teachers to help them sustain the new approach.
Could existing systems be leveraged to grow and build the TaRL approach?
TaRL is an approach with many different elements – including adopting a new methodology to accelerate learning, teacher/instructor capacity building and mentoring, introducing measurement approaches and interactive learning materials, and changing classroom organisation by regrouping students by learning levels. Research by J-PAL affiliated professors has shown that implementing these components independently does not achieve impact.2
When adopting TaRL, organisations, governments, and individuals need to be open to the whole approach in order to ensure improvements in learning outcomes. The TaRL approach could be implemented during a dedicated hour in the school day, after school, or in intensive camps for a short period of the school year or holidays.
Can the necessary systems of support be activated or built?
Can the education system build or activate strong training, mentoring, monitoring and leadership systems? TaRL evidence shows that when the approach is successfully implemented, learning gains follow. The evidence also shows that without the necessary pillars of support, such as ongoing mentoring of teachers, implementation can break down and undermine learning.
If you are considering a government led programme
If you are considering direct implementation
2. Banerjee, Abhijit, Rukmini Banerji, James Berry, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukherji, Marc Shotland, and Michael Walton. “Mainstreaming an effective intervention: Evidence from randomized evaluations of “Teaching at the Right Level” in India.” No. w22746. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2016.