A Roadmap with Workable Tools to Measure Learning Achievements Worldwide

By David Coleman, Senior Education Advisor, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (and Chair of the GAML Strategic Planning Committee), and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

This blog was originally published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Report from the third meeting of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (11-12 May)

The world community is that much closer to having answers to one of the most fundamental questions in education: who is – and who is not – meeting agreed educational standards?  The answer to this question will allow involved actors to more accurately respond and take action: how do we prioritize energy and resources to achieve learning for all?

Members of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) met recently in Mexico City to take the next set of steps in building a learning assessment roadmap.  Meeting members represented an impressive range of multilateral, regional, bilateral, civil society, research and technical agencies.

The ultimate goal: Improved learning worldwide

GAML has two objectives: to support national strategies for learning assessment, and to ensure international reporting on the sustainable development goals by all UN Member States. The ultimate goal is improved learning worldwide.

GAML members at the Mexico meeting focused on achieving these twin objectives, and considered the decision-making processes and governance structures GAML will need to best support the ambitions of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

GAML’s work is critical in building a global consensus on the “minimum proficiency levels” students should reach at the Grade 2/3 level, at the end of primary, and at the end of lower secondary (SDG 4.1). The GAML partnership is playing an important technical coordination role across the breadth of SDG 4 targets and indicators with a learning focus.

GAML helps to harmonize assessment tools

This third GAML meeting was an opportunity to review progress on a range of tools and initiatives.  For example, the UIS is mapping the frameworks used by national learning assessments to bridge their differences and commonalities.

Other tools were discussed. To help countries with international reporting, the Evaluation of Alignment in Content (EAC) identifies the areas in which national and regional assessments align to a common reporting scale, enabled by the related Learning Progression Explorer.

And given the priority associated with SDG indicator 4.1.1 (minimum proficiency levels at three educational steps), the UIS presented a coding scheme to map mathematics assessment frameworks. A reading assessment framework is under development.

Progress reporting was provided on the Catalogue of Learning Assessments (CLA) tool, which has two modules: one to collect basic information on the assessments a country uses to monitor learning, and a second to collect the data produced by these learning assessments. A separate tool will be developed to evaluate the robustness of assessment systems and to identify capacity-building needs.

Ensuring good quality data on learning

GAML members also discussed the Assessment of Data Collection (ADC) process, which aims to ensure the quality of SDG 4 data. The ADC will be supported by assessment experts within countries and from regional networks and assessment agencies.

These experts will examine every aspect of a   learning assessment, from the sampling process, through the analysis of data stage, and on to the transparent communication of results. Best practice will, in turn, be defined by a Good Practice in Learning Assessment (GP-LA) tool.

The quality of global data depends directly on national data. So it is essential that countries are able to improve the quality of their data through capacity development, supported by the standards and tools developed by GAML.

GAML itself, as a meeting point of a wide range of involved partners, needs to be clear and efficient in the tools it seeks to develop, and needs to communicate effectively with stakeholders from the school level to the global level on the best ways to assess learning.

The Alliance’s newly formed Strategic Planning Committee will have a key role in strengthening these governance, oversight and communications functions.

So what are the next steps?  The progress and recommendations emanating from the third GAML meeting have been presented to the Technical Coordination Group (TCG) on SDG 4 – Education 2030 Indicators, which will in turn report to the Education 2030 Steering Committee in June.

The next GAML meeting is scheduled for late October. In the meantime, GAML members, and particularly GAML taskforces, will be busy working on the tools to support one of humanity’s most cherished goals: learning for all.

Countries, Experts and Agencies Meet to Measure Progress Towards Education 2030

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics
This article was published on the World Education Blog.

Given the time it can take to mobilize around development goals and establish effective monitoring systems to track progress, the 2030 deadline for the achievement of the global goal on education is just around the corner. Nevertheless, there are times when it is wise to pause for a moment and take stock. With crucial meetings of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) and the Technical Coordination Group on SDG 4 (TCG) in the coming weeks, this is just such a moment. Continue reading

We Need a Paradigm Shift in Education Data to Build the Learning Generation

By Bridget Crumpton, Senior Advisor of the Education Commission, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Ambitious goals demand more and better data, which is why the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators is meeting today in Ottawa. Experts from countries and international agencies including the UNESCO Institute for Statistics are once again reviewing the frameworks and work plans needed to help deliver on the pledges made for 2030.  The good news is that just about everyone agrees on the strength and value of the education indicators. The challenges lie in producing them and disseminating them in a way that they are actively used. Continue reading

Why We Need a Flagship Indicator for Education: All Children in School and Learning

By Bridget Crumpton, Senior Adviser of the Education Commission, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

For the past year, we have been pushing for more and better data to help ensure that no-one is left behind – a key objective of the new Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data launched in Cape Town in January. We have cultivated new partnerships while promoting innovative data tools and approaches to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education. But clearly monitoring is only one side of the picture.  It must be reinforced by strong advocacy to make an impact and galvanize stronger global action on education. And strong advocacy, in turn, benefits greatly from a flagship indicator that can serve as a rallying point – an indicator that is easy to understand by all and that comes to symbolize the larger global goal. Continue reading

Monitoring Reading and Writing to Help Children Climb the Ladder of Education

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

This piece was also published by the Global Reading Network.

In his short story “Instructions to climb a ladder,” Julio Cortazar uses more than 380 words to explain an action that, you would think, requires no explanation at all. He writes, for example: “The first steps are always the most difficult, just to acquire the coordination needed.” He also notes the coincidence of the raising of “the foot” and “the foot” of the ladder.

Continue reading

Education SDG Indicator on Learning Outcomes Gets a Major Upgrade

By Luis Benveniste, Practice Manager, Global Engagement and Knowledge at World Bank, and Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

There has been an important shift in the global measurement of learning. The Inter-Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has decided to ‘upgrade’ SDG Indicator 4.1.1 on learning outcomes: the proportion of children and young people who achieve at least a minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics. Once a ‘Tier III’ indicator (an indicator that does not yet have established methodologies or standards), 4.1.1 has been upgraded to a ‘Tier II’ indicator for two points of measurement (end of primary and lower secondary), which means it meets methodological criteria although data are available for less than 50% of countries in each region.   Continue reading

Good News for the Global Education 2030 Steering Committee

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and Dankert Vedeler, Co-Chair of the Global Education 2030 Steering Committee

The members of the Global Education 2030 Steering Committee, gathering in Paris this week, have much to discuss, and also much to celebrate – particularly on the all-important data that will track progress towards the world’s education goals.

So much is happening. The SDG 4 – Education 2030 indicator framework is taking shape. Partnerships spanning countries and international organizations are putting down roots, including the Technical Co-operation Group (TCG) that is building consensus around the framework, ensuring that the monitoring of progress and the creation of baselines will begin in 2017, as noted in a recent blog. Continue reading