How to administer the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) using SurveyCTO

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If you're an educator and/or do research on education outcomes, you're probably familiar with the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). SurveyCTO's field plug-in support has allowed for the development of an EGRA solution. While EGRA was possible using SurveyCTO before now, it required the use of a stopwatch for timing activities. Timing of activities, and several other helpful functionalities are now available through the timed-grid-test field plug-in, to help you easily and consistently administer EGRA assessments. You can now administer this important education assessment without compromise, while taking advantage of SurveyCTO's data quality and security features.

Note that this article won't tell you everything you need to know about EGRA. Please consult official EGRA guidelines for authoritative guidance. 

Also, you may be interested in the EGMA assessment.

See the above overview video to get an idea of what EGRA looks like on SurveyCTO.

Public beta: This field plug-in is a "public beta" meaning that it is still a work-in-progress. The version you can test now works well, but how it looks and some functionality are likely to change. Importantly, we're still open to user feedback, so please test the timed-grid-test field plug-in and let us know what you think (instructions below).


Supported EGRA subtasks

EGRA is made up of a number of standard subtask types. This resource deals with the following EGRA subtasks:

  • Letter identification
  • Familiar word reading
  • Nonword reading
  • Oral reading fluency with comprehension 

See the EGRA documentation for details on these subtasks. The timed-grid-test field plug-in is based on these specifications. 

A non-standard EGRA test which is sometimes included is the "sentence choice" subtask (discussed here), which is facilitated separately by the timed-field-list field plug-in (see the section below).

nonword_screenshot.png A screenshot of the button grid for the nonword subtask.

Jumping straight in

If you're familiar with EGRA, you may want to jump straight in and test the timed-grid-test field plug-in along with a sample form. If you need help understanding how to deploy sample forms with attachments, see this article. Otherwise, here are your resources:

  1. The EGRA sample form. This sample has been designed based on an example EGRA assessment in English, shared by Room to Read. Either save a copy in your own Google Drive, or download as an Excel file.
  2. The following field plug-ins are also required by this sample form:
    1. The timed-grid-test field plug-in. This is a direct download link. For more details, see the field plug-in repository. See the documentation.
    2. The timed-field-list field plug-in (also a direct download link). This field plug-in is required for the "sentence choice" subtask. See the documentation.
    3. The timed-advanced field plug-in (also a direct download link). This field plug-in is necessary for timing the comprehension question component of the oral reading subtask. See the documentation. 

Some familiarity with SurveyCTO will help too, but you should be able to jump right in, comparing what you see with the PDF from Room to Read.

Preparation to deploy a timed EGRA subtask

The egra-test field plug-in is built on top of the select_multiple field type. In order to administer one of the subtasks it facilitates, you will need to provide the list of items used for the grid, or the passage of text in a choice list used by that select_multiple field.

Prepare choice lists quickly from grids of items using the formulas in this spreadsheet template.

Timed subtask controls and options

While the egra-test field plug-in provides an EGRA-compliant execution of timed subtasks, there are a few options available to customize subtasks to your situation. The options you have are facilitated through field plug-in parameters which allow you to customize and limit how EGRA subtasks are administered.

Starting the subtask

In any of the subtasks facilitated by egra-test, you'll need to use the "start" button at the top to begin. The "start" button has a play symbol. As soon as you do, the play symbol will be exchanged for a countdown timer.

Choose a non-default duration with the duration parameter.

Executing the subtask

Assessors will listen to students attempt each item in the list of items, moving left-to-right, marking only the incorrect items. Omission / non-selection indicates that an item has been correctly attempted. 

If you want to administer EGRA in a right-to-left language, please contact us as below.

Small vs. larger screen devices

The egra-test field plug-in has been optimized for small and large screens, offering different navigation options. By "larger" screens, we mean devices from 7" tablets (like the Google Nexus) and larger. On larger screens the full subtask should appear on one screen.

On "smaller" screens (most phones, excluding some phablets) subtasks will be paginated (divided across multiple screens). Assessors can navigate between screens using forward and back buttons, represented using arrows.

Continuity on small screens (experimental)

On a small screen, each "page" of the paginated list of items for the subtask disappears when you tap on the "next" button. This may be confusing to some assessors, and to help provide a sense of continuity, if the continuity feature is enabled, the bottom row on a paginated screen will become the top row on the next "page", to help provide continuity.

This is an experimental feature, so we're interested in your feedback. 

Choose to enable this using the continuity parameter (continuity = 1).

Early ending rule

Some EGRA tests are accompanied by an early ending rule where if the first 5 or 10 items in the first row are all marked incorrect, the test ends prematurely. The egra-test field plug-in will prompt assessors to end early in these circumstances. 

Choose a non-default number of incorrect items using the end-after parameter (end-after = 0).

Mark a full row incorrect

In order to help assessors quickly respond to situations where students are struggling and skip whole rows, it is possible to mark a full row of letters, words, or nonwords as incorrect. Doing this has steps:

  1. Tap on the row number in the grid. The row number will change to a question mark - this is a warning, asking whether you're sure.
  2. Tap again on the question mark to mark the whole row incorrect.
  3. If you made a mistake, tap a third time to undo.

If you finish early

To finish a subtask early before the time runs out, simply tap on the "finish" button in the bottom right (see the button with the checkmark). You would need to double-confirm finishing early for safety sake. When you do, the test is final and you'll be prompted to pick the "last attempted item".

If time runs out

If time runs out before the student is finished, a pop-up will appear, asking the assessor to pick the "last attempted item". 

Picking the last attempt is important for scoring, working out how many correct items per minute were identified inside elapsed time.

Strictness of the subtasks

For comparability, each test should be administered as consistently as possible, inside the same time limit, without any flexibility. However, we have added an experimental feature which allows making selections after the time has run out. The rationale is that while we can all listen reliably at a child's speaking pace, not all assessors will react fast enough toward the end to mark one or two final items incorrect if the timer running out doesn't allow this. 

While the default behavior is a strict end to the subtask once the timer reaches 0, if you wish to allow extra time, you can.

Choose to make a subtask flexible when the time runs about by using the strict parameter (strict = 0). 

Pausing a subtasks

Also in the vein of being less strict, there is the option to allow for pausing subtasks. This is not the default behavior, but if you feel it would be helpful (during training, or to compensate for environmental interruptions), it is possible to allow pausing. If you do, a "pause" button will appear alongside the timer at the top of the screen. 

Choose to allow pausing using the pause parameter (pause = 1).

Executing the sentence choice subtask

The timed-field-list field plug-in works with both select_one and select_multiple fields. Similar to egra-test, it also needs a prepared list of sentences, but those are formatted differently (see the sample form attached to this article and field plug-in repository for details). The timed-field-list field plug-in has many parameters; for an authoritative rundown of these, see the wiki.

Feedback from you

As above, EGRA on SurveyCTO is still a work-in-progress. The field plug-ins that support it are stable and reliable, but could use some improvement. We would love to hear your feedback. Please write to and we'll get back to you.



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