REAPing the benefits of reading in improving students’ academic performance

Developing children’s ability to read during their foundational years is vital to their growth and development. Early grade learners who are good readers can understand better and comprehend more. They have a higher chance of becoming academic performers as improved literacy leads to expanded vocabulary, better grasp of concepts, and enhanced critical and analytical skills.

Understanding the value of increased reading ability to students’ performance, E.B. Magalona Elementary School (ES) in Negros Occidental has stepped up its efforts to make each of their learners a reader. The school realized that reading interventions have become even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for pupils who are in Kindergarten to Grade 3 (K-3) levels. Developing a model reading program intervention that can be used even after the pandemic will greatly benefit the school, its teachers, and students.

With support from the USAID’s ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines (ABC+) project, E.B. Magalona ES developed and implemented a reading innovation program to help over a thousand of their K-3 learners improve their reading skills so they can do better in school.



The shift from face-to-face classes to modular learning puts weight on the ability of pupils to read and comprehend new concepts to learn. This is more crucial for K-3 learners who are in the foundational process of learning the basic literacy skills they need. In E.B. Magalona ES, the first few months of distance learning underscored the urgency of enhancing the reading skills of their pupils. There was a need to assess their skills to identify who needed support and what support is needed; implement appropriate instructions/lessons; provide suitable supplementary materials that will help them read better; and build a partnership between teachers and parents to support these learners.

Using the ABC+ Rapid Learning Assessment (RLA) tool, the teachers, led by Ms. Ma. Carmen B. Delada, School English/Reading Coordinator, administered online RLA to Grades 1 to 3 pupils in April 2021. Results revealed that 14% of the enrolled students in Grades 1 to 3 were classified as “Full Refresher.” This meant that 112 out of 789 students – 50 in Grade 1, 49 in Grade 2 and 13 in Grade 3 – needed much support because they had yet to reach the expected reading level for their age. Specifically, these students needed direct instruction of phonics patterns from the previous grade level to improve their reading skills.



Despite the absence of face-to-face classes, E.B. Magalona ES is committed to elevating students’ performance by fostering their love for reading. Teachers believe that children who can read well will have better comprehension skills needed to excel academically.

A group of teachers with a common goal joined Ms. Delada in developing and implementing a reading innovation program that is specially tailored for early grade learners. Project REAP or “Read to Enhance Academic Performance” is a balanced reading program that employs the Marungko approach, a phono-syllabic beginning reading teaching method which places emphasis on mastery of individual letter sounds and blending of letter sounds into syllables and words. This approach is used alongside poems and songs to make reading more fun and meaningful.

Project REAP aimed to improve the reading skills of 112 students in “Full Refresher” level and reduce their number by at least 75%. These students were then given developmental reading and remedial reading interventions aligned with SDO Negros Occidental’s Project Bridges program. This meant that activities and games that focus on visual/ auditory discrimination, phonetic analysis, sight words, and letter sound and word recognition were conducted among the students to address their skill gaps.

Teacher conducts scheduled face-to-face remedial reading for students who do not have access to internet services. (Photo Credit: E.B. Magalona ES)

“After determining the reading level of every learner, teachers became sure of the appropriate strategy and approach to use that will suit them,” shared by Mr. Rufino L. Delfin, Principal of E.B. Magalona ES.

Parents and/or guardians of targeted pupils were oriented on Project REAP and how they can be engaged in supporting their children’s learning. Their commitment as home learning partners was affirmed, while online groups were established per section to strengthen the network of support. Aside from being “hands-on” home learning partners, the parents’ and/or guardians’ involvement in Project REAP paved the way to building a good teacher-parent relationship.

Weekly reading classes were done online or in-person (following health protocols) from May to June. Assigned teachers scheduled the sessions from Mondays to Thursdays. The progress of each pupil was monitored through weekly check-ins with parents. Children were provided with ABC+ supplementary reading materials and home learning guides to further develop their interest in reading and improve the level of their literacy skills at home.

“The use of ABC+ leveled reader materials has helped a lot in conducting the project because it made the process easier,” shared by Ms. Krysten Talde, a Grade I Teacher in the school who was one of the project implementers.

Teacher conducts scheduled face-to-face remedial reading for students who do not have access to internet services. (Photo Credit: E.B. Magalona ES)


Project REAP ran for only two months but has scored valuable milestones on enhancing the ability of K-3 pupils to read. The post-intervention RLA results showed that E.B. Magalona ES succeeded in reaching its target to reduce the number of early grade learners in the “Full Refresher” level. Only 13 out of the 112 (12%) students – 3 in Grade 1 and 10 in Grade 2 – remain at the same level. Target pupils are now either “Light” or “Moderate” Refreshers who need more practice in some areas of reading so they can be “Grade Ready.” Two students, one in Grade 1 and one in Grade 2, have since been classified as “Grade Ready.”

Teachers also noticed that there was an improvement in the academic performance of target students. They were able to progress well in modular learning. According to teachers, the enhanced reading skills helped the students understand the modules better and, consequently, do better on performance tasks and summative tests.

In addition, the project did not only improve the reading skills and academic performance of targeted students, it also developed the bond of parents and children through reading activities at home.

Project REAP is now a model intervention for reading innovation programs. E.B. Magalona was able to develop an intervention that can be used even after the pandemic. It will be scaled up for all teachers and the entire district to adapt. The plan is to conduct RLA at every beginning of the school year to identify students in “Full Refresher” level so they can be supported better.

“I believe that the full implementation of this project will greatly help all target learners to become readers so we can finally say that every learner in E.B. Magalona ES is a champion,” Delada said.

E.B. Magalona ES will continue to reap the benefits of developing the students’ reading skills by ensuring that all children in school are provided with the utmost support they need to move forward and excel.