The UIS has released a new study to help countries and development partners evaluate the costs and benefits, financial and non-financial, of different approaches to measuring learning.

Produced by Martin Gustafsson, education economist at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, the study focuses specifically on SDG Indicator 4.1.1, which tracks the proportion of children and young people achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.

The study takes into account a wide range of factors behind the complex question of costs and benefits. These range from the human and financial resources required by countries to the difficulties in assessing out-of-school children as well as the dynamics of education policy debates within countries. It recognises that perfect comparability over time and across countries in the statistics on educational quality is virtually unachievable. The challenge lies in generating statistics which are sufficiently reliable to guide development efforts in meaningful ways.

It also evaluates three prominent and existing proposals to report on Indicator 4.1.1. These proposals are described as follows:

  • Statistical recalibration of existing data
  • Pedagogically informed determination of cut scores (social moderation)
  •  Recalibration through the running of parallel tests (Rosetta Stone).

Based on this analysis, the study presents several ways forward to effectively and pragmatically report on Indicator 4.1.1. These findings will support the work of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning and a new initiative that focuses specifically on learning in the early grades.