Live from CIES 2016: Linking assessment data with policy in Asia

09 March 2016


Anne-Berit Kavli present at the 60th annual CIES conference.


A panel chaired by IIEP today at the 60th annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) has brought to light a number of examples from Asia on how learning assessment data can be used as a basis for policy and planning. Entitled Learning for All: Using assessment data for policy and planning in Asia, the panelists drew from a number of different types of assessments – all of which have the overarching goal of improving learning outcomes.

While the examples mentioned were taken from Asia, the panel’s themes and insights proved relevant to countries worldwide. IIEP caught up with panel’s chair Anne-Berit Kavli, who is from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training and is currently on nine-month secondment at IIEP in Paris.

IIEP:  How learning assessment data is used is a major question for the global education community. What examples are you seeing from the Asia region in terms of putting assessments to use for the benefit of improving learning?

Anne-Berit Kavli: With the introduction of the new sustainable development goal on education, which emphasizes relevant and quality learning outcomes for all, the use of assessments to monitor and improve learning outcomes has become even more important. The Asian region is particularly interesting because it is in this region that we have most of the highest scoring countries and also countries with rapid improvements in the international assessments like PISA and TIMSS. At the same time, the Asian region also has a number of developing countries who still are facing big challenges in their education systems.

In this session at CIES, we are focusing on the use of assessments on a system level to improve learning, and in this context that means to provide evidence on how the school system succeeds in reaching the educational goals, and try to define which factors can be associated with effective learning. The PASEC study which was performed in three Asian countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, in 2010-2011, assessed pupils’ learning achievements in language and mathematics at the beginning and end of primary schooling. The assessment tools were based on tests and questionnaires, and learning outcomes were analyzed in relation to important background information on context and learning conditions. Based on these analyses, the study identified and advised on important areas of improvement for each of the countries.

Another interesting example from Asia, is the development of a new regional assessment, the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metric (SEA-PLM). The SEA-PLM is planned as a regional assessment which aims to “contribute towards improving and redefining learning outcomes by providing a regional culturally appropriate metrics and thereby towards a more equitable and meaningful education for all children in the region”. In other words, this assessment will emphasize the relevance of learning in the specific cultural context in Asia. The SEA-PLM will assess learning across three domains at Grade 5: literacy, numeracy and global citizenship (based on South East Asian values). This is a very interesting initiative, because it recognizes the importance of cultural relevance in education, while at the same time it also aims to give benchmarks related to a global learning metrics.

IIEP: How does the use of learning assessments in Asia relate to other regions in the world?

Anne-Berit Kavli: As I already mentioned, many Asian countries participate very actively in a number of large scale regional and international assessments, and it is in this region we find many of the highest performing countries. Education and educational success seems to be valued very highly in this region, and the students meet very high expectations both from their homes and from their schools.

IIEP: How does this work relate to some of the other projects you are currently working on at IIEP while on secondment in Paris?

Anne-Berit Kavli: During this secondment at IIEP this winter, I have had the privilege to be involved in a variety of activities and projects at the institute. One example is IIEP’s new Learning Portal, where I have been actively involved in the development of the section on Monitor Learning. Both this session on the use of learning assessments in policy and planning, and also several of the other sessions here at CIES are highly relevant for the further development of the Learning Portal. I have also been involved in education sector analyses and planning in two very different countries, and I see that many of the examples that are discussed here at CIES can be very useful for further work in these countries. Especially the understanding of education in a cultural context, and how the use of assessments has to be seen in this context in order to be relevant and useful as a tool for improvement.