Impacts After One Year of “Healing Classroom” on Children's Reading and Math Skills in DRC: Results from a Cluster Randomized Trial

Publisher: Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, vol. 10, issue 3 (subscription required)
Jul 01, 2017
J. Lawrence Aber, Catalina Torrente, Leighann Starkey, Brian Johnston, Edward Seidman, and Peter Halpin
This article examines the effects of one year of exposure to “Learning to Read in a Healing Classroom” (LRHC) on the reading and math skills of second- to fourth-grade children in the low-income and conflict-affected Democratic Republic of the Congo. LRHC consists of two primary components: teacher resource materials that infuse social-emotional learning principles into a reading curriculum and collaborative school-based teacher learning circles to exchange information about and solve problems in using the teacher resource materials. To test the impact of LRHC on children's reading and math skills, 40 school clusters containing 64 schools and 4,465 students were randomized to begin LRHC in 2011–2012 or to serve as wait-list controls. Hierarchical linear models (students nested in schools, nested in school clusters) were fitted. Results indicate marginally significant positive impacts on children's reading scores (dwt = .14) and geometry scores (dwt = .14) but not on their addition/subtraction scores. These results should be treated with caution given the reported significance level of p < .10. The intervention had the largest impacts on math scores for language minority children and in low-performing schools. Research, practice, and policy implications for education in low-income conflict-affected countries are discussed.