COVID-19 affected all USAID/Philippines projects, perhaps none more so than ABC+. USAID co-developed ABC+ with the Philippine DepEd and Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) to respond to the challenges of early literacy development in mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE). This five-year (2019–2024) project aims to improve early grade reading and emphasizes using mother tongue languages to transition learning in Filipino and English for children in kindergarten to grade 3. It also supports a more solid acquisition of foundational mathematical concepts and skills and aims to improve social and emotional learning. However, just four weeks after ABC+ began implementing its work plan, the Philippines government closed all schools for in-person learning. Schools did not re-open until the 2022–2023 school year. ABC+’s operating context changed dramatically, forcing it to rapidly adapt its implementation strategy.
In the fall of 2022, as schools began to re-open, USAID/Philippines requested CLAimDev to complete a midterm performance evaluation to assess whether ABC+’s results, in the dramatically altered context, supported the underlying activity TOC and to uncover unanticipated or unintended outcomes, positive and negative, as a result of the changed implementation context.
The evaluation used both qualitative and quantitative methods to answer the evaluation questions related to ABC+’s relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability, and used outcome harvesting to reveal outcomes not envisioned by the TOC. The data collection methods included electronic surveys for individuals, KIIs with implementing partners and the DepEd’s central, regional, and division offices to probe system capacity, FGDs, outcome harvesting and most significant change workshops on early grade instruction and delivery and access to materials, and a case study for in-depth analysis of home learning partners (HLPs) and private sector engagement.