The first pilot project in Cali, Colombia Edumetria for Development in Cali was implemented in 2016 with 9th grade students from the public school Institución Educativa Técnico Industrial Multipropósito. During five months the students enrolled in the program received two hours per week of math instruction, exam preparation (PISA and Pruebas Saber), and one hour of life and vocational coaching with specialized instructors. They also received rewards according to their individual and group performance. In addition to the instruction the students received gift cards according to their results, went to field trips and were given lunch before class.
The High school Institución Educativa Técnico Industrial Multipropósito is a coed public institution with about 900 students ages 11 to 19 years-old. It is located in Comuna 20 (also known as Siloé), one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cali, one which has a high incidence of displaced populations and suffers from social problems such as poor infrastructure and educational quality, unemployment, gung violence, drugs and crime. This project aimed to have an impact on these particularly vulnerable populations.
Research conducted shows that school learning of Colombian students is highly unequal. Students of higher socioeconomic level attending urban and private schools obtain better results in the learning tests. Students attending schools with better infrastructure, greater access to basic services, more hours of instruction and friendlier living environments also obtain better results. Schools attended by students of lower socioeconomic level and of the rural areas have greater lack of these factors (Duarte et al., 2012; Gamboa, 2013).
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide exam that evaluates performance on mathematics, science and reading. Colombian results were low by global standards: In the PISA 2012 exam mathematics section, Colombia scored 376 point and ranked 62 out of 65 amongst the countries that participated. In the PISA test 2015, Colombia showed a slight improvement with 390 point and ranked 61 out of 70 countries.
The PISA exam places students at 6 levels according to their performance, one being the lowest and six the highest. Within these strata, 66% of Colombian students were ranked below level 2 and 18% at level 2. In context of the exam scoring methodology, this means that only two out of ten students can make literal interpretations of the results of mathematical problems, employ basic algorithms or formulas, or interpret and recognize situations in contexts that require direct inference. In contrast, less than 1% reached levels 5 and 6.
In 2012 Colombia performed the worst gender gap among the participant countries as boys achieved 390 points while the women 365. In the PISA 2015 Colombia narrowed this gender gap by 15 point but still boys outperform girls in mathematics by an average of 11 points.
The achievement gap is also very high among public and private schools (381 points v. 429 points) and among rural and urban areas in the country (365 v. 411 points). According to the OCDE (2016) in Colombia, 14% of the variation in performance is attributed to differences in students’ socio-economic status.
The latest report of the PISA 2015 revealed two additional interesting facts about education in Colombia:
The percentage of students who had repeated a grade is the second largest, behind only Algeria, among all the countries and economies that participated in PISA 2015.
There is nearly one computer for every student in Colombia – a higher ratio than observed across OECD countries on average and higher than would be expected given Colombia’s level of spending on education. This factor, coupled with the country’s recent improvements in Internet broadband connectivity, exhibit an opportunity to focus on developing technological content in educational topics.
* Photo from EL PAIS, CALI: http://www.elpais.com.co/elpais/cali/noticias/manana-entrega-oficialmente-ciudad-mirador-siloehttp://www.elpais.com.co/elpais/cali/noticias/manana-entrega-oficialmente-ciudad-mirador-siloe
Background of the project in Cali
Edumetria for Development in Cali
Edumetria For Development
3325 17th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20010
+1 (202) 677 5313
+1 (202) 733 7396
Edumetria for Development is an initiative launched by a group of professionals in Washington, D.C. with local allies to provide high-quality math courses, test preparation, and vocational counseling for low income students.
The goal of the program in Cali is to improve math performance of 9th graders (14 – 16 years old students). The methodology was implemented with fifty students spilt in two groups of twenty-five. Thirty students of the afternoon class were used as a control group. The kids of the control group didn’t receive additional classes or workshops but we monitored their results in order to compare with the two groups issue of the intervention.
The students were evaluated with three exams (beginning, middle, end of program). The exams were designed by an expert in the field using the PISA TEST standards and focusing on applied problems: use of mathematical concepts, procedures, facts and tools to describe, explain and predict phenomena. Additionally, four different surveys were applied during the program to gather information about of the students, their parents and the school.
The pilot project in Cali showed very positive results:
Students improved on average 239% during the program. They went from 20.5% correct answers in the first test to 49.0% in the final one.
Students in the top quartile improved on average 221% (from 29.4% to 65.0%).
This program proved to be especially effective for underperforming students in the lower quartile improving on average 328.8% (from 11.8% to 33.8%)
Meanwhile, the students of the control group in the afternoon - not receiving any classes or workshops- didn’t perform any improvements during the time of the intervention.
The total cost of the pilot project was around $10 per student per month. This included: Specialized math tutoring, life couching workshops, student rewards, two fieldtrips and lunch before every session.