5Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation: What Gets Measured, Gets Done

Creating a Culture of Data Collection and Use

This was the day that we knew we had turned the corner. It was not different from many other days of site visits: the long car ride; the courtesy visit with the head teacher; observations in the grade 1 and 2 classrooms and school library; discussions with teachers, parents, and students about working with Room to Read. But there was also something special about the day. The schools we visited near Ajmer, Rajasthan, in rural India had a different feel about them.

On arrival in each school, Room to Read’s local team rattled off very specific statistics about the schools that we would be observing. Discussions with school staff were more focused than usual. The head teachers had a sharp grasp of daily attendance and the progress in the children’s reading. On the walls, interspersed with children’s artwork and the colorful posters that you often see in classrooms were big sheets of paper that tracked the reading curriculum and children’s reading scores. Writing and words were everywhere, and storybooks strewn around classrooms indicated that they were well used and that a culture of reading was well established.

Teachers had hand selected a girl and boy from each class to serve as library captains. These children were responsible for helping other children check out books and return them to the library on time. Book checkout registries in school libraries were detailed, ...

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