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Testing what students actually learn

How much impact do improvements to teaching methods and curriculum reforms actually make? To help education officials better understand the link between quality upgrades and how children grasp new information, the UNICEF Regional Office initiated a pilot programme to test the knowledge level of primary school students. Low scores would suggest needed changes in either a curriculum or teaching methods, or both. The pilot programme involved organizing a workshop for 11 UNICEF country offices and their education ministry counterparts to train ministry officials on how to create the specific tests and how to analyse the results. Eight countries (China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, DPR Korea, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam) and the Pacific country office completed the pilot exam in 25 schools.

“We provided experts who could help build the capabilities of ministry officials for creating innovative tests and for analysing the results,” explains Cliff Meyers, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Education. “And now many countries are going much further on their own initiative and resources.”

Myanmar, for example, has expanded the testing to 250 schools as a baseline for a child-friendly school project; DPR Korea is using its findings to revise its national primary math curriculum; China is modifying its teacher training; and the Philippines is modifying its national examination system.





Additional reading

For more information (especially on the use of SOLO taxonomy for item preparation and the use of Rasch for analysis), see the East Asia Learning Achievement Study. (forthcoming)


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