SAS takes steps to scientifically determine how effective SAS’s Reading Program is.
2009 was truly a milestone year for SAS. Not only was it the foundation’s 10th Anniversary, it was also the year we officially began our collaboration with the MIT Jameel Poverty Action Lab (MIT J-PAL). Based in Boston and New York, the Lab’s goal is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence. MIT J-PAL gathers its evidence through a system of randomization created by noted Social Development Economist, Dr. Esther Duflo.
As far back as 2006, SAS began communicating with Dr. Duflo in the hopes of forming a collaboration that would be focused on measuring the effectiveness of reading programs in the public school system. Now that our collaboration was made official in June, the four-phase SAS/MIT J-PAL survey study is a first of its kind in the Philippines.
Starting in July, an affiliate of the Lab from Columbia University in New York, Todd Kumler, came to help facilitate and observe Phase One: the Baseline Study of 100 schools in the province of Tarlac. With the help of TNS Philippines, the local media research agency that SAS contracted to conduct the studies, Phase One determined a reference point for the entire survey. In September, SAS launched Reading Programs in 50 ‘randomly chosen’ Treatment schools out of the 100, leaving the remaining 50 to serve as Control Schools.
After all 50 of the 31-Day in-classroom Reading Programs were completed in November, SAS, TNS, and MIT J-PAL began Phase Two: the Post-Implementation Exercise in all 100 of the Treatment and Control Schools. The results of the Post-Implementation Exercise will help measure the effectiveness of the SAS Reading Program.
To be their second representative in the Philippines, MIT J-PAL sent to Manila, Columbia University PhD candidate Ama Baafra Abeberese. Like Todd, Baafra was responsible for overseeing the data from the November Post-Implementation Exercise being conducted and processed by TNS. Baafra communicates directly with Todd Kumler and Professor Leigh Linden at Columbia University.
Now that Phase Two is over, SAS is looking forward to March 2010, when Phase Three: the Follow Up Exercise, will take place. Phase Three will determine whether the SAS Reading Program has a lasting effect on the Grade IV students it reaches. In one year’s time, the last and final phase, Phase Four, will begin. We will once again return to the participating Tarlac Elementary Schools to follow and find the recipients of the Reading Programs and see how they are faring one year later, and whether or not they have developed the love and habit of reading.
SAS cannot wait to successfully complete the collaboration. Soon we will know just how close we truly are to building a nation of readers!