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Piloting a new approach to analyse learning assessment systems

Ethiopia is the first of three pilot countries to launch a new system to improve learning assessments. Ramya Vivekanandan reports.

In the first part of this blog, we discussed how Global Partnership for Education (GPE) supports partner countries in strengthening their learning assessment systems, including through a new approach – with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) – called ANLAS: Analysis of National Learning Assessment Systems. This diagnostic will allow them to identify issues and make recommendations to improve their assessment systems.

A country-led, participative process

Three countries were selected by the GPE Secretariat in collaboration with partners to be pilots for using ANLAS: Ethiopia, Mauritania and Vietnam. Among the criteria for selection, country interest and demand were most important, followed by the planned period of the next education sector plan (ESP), the existence of different modalities of assessment and policy interest in assessment of 21st century skills.

ANLAS is conceptualised as a country-led, participative process. The analysis is undertaken collaboratively by a national team representing the Ministry of Education and decentralised levels, as well as civil society/private organisations, teacher organisations and assessment agencies that are external to the government.

An important element of the implementation process are consultations with key stakeholders such as representatives from relevant divisions of the Ministry of Education at the national and provincial levels, development partners, representatives of assessment agencies (if external to the government), teacher training program providers, school leaders and teachers, representatives of civil-society organisations and private organisations involved in learning assessment.

Embedding ANLAS into the broader education sector planning process aims to ensure that the identified recommendations are used to develop improvement strategies and implement them. To guide national teams, the toolkit consists of different tools to support the ANLAS process, the qualitative analysis, reporting and dissemination.

The launch of the ANLAS pilot in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is the first of the three pilot countries to launch ANLAS. Following training of the national team by ACER, the GPE Secretariat undertook a mission to Addis Ababa in January to work with the national team and sensitise relevant stakeholders about ANLAS and Ethiopia’s participation.

During a session held at the National Educational Assessment and Examinations Authority (NEAEA), Ethiopia’s National Focal Point, Mesaye Demessie Zeleke, spoke about the objectives of ANLAS and the way in which Ethiopia hopes that its participation as a pilot country will allow it to chart its way forward.

The country faces a number of challenges in strengthening its learning assessment system, including a federal system which poses specific difficulties when administering public examinations and the national learning assessment. The different assessments used to assess learning of different populations, such as learners with special needs, are also challenging to reconcile. Ethiopia also aims to build the capacity of NEAEA staff and to join a regional and/or international assessment program in the near future. Engagement in ANLAS can inform and help the country to strategise a way forward toward these objectives.

The stakeholder briefing was attended by several NEAEA officials as well as relevant directorates of the Ministry of Education, including the Planning and Resource Mobilization Directorate, Curriculum Development and Implementation Directorate, Teachers and Educational Institutions Leaders Licensing Directorate, and delegates from two regions. Representatives of development partners, including USAID, the World Bank, DFID, the Embassy of Finland and British Council were also present, and the mission conducted follow-up meetings with USAID and the Royal Norwegian Embassy as the coordinating agencies in the country.

It is expected that the experience of the three ANLAS pilot countries, including Ethiopia, will not only enable them to develop action-oriented recommendations to strengthen their national assessment system but will also provide rich experience for the revision and finalisation of ANLAS, for the benefit of all GPE partner countries. ■

This article by Ramya Vivekanandan, Senior Education Specialist, Learning Assessment Systems, GPE Secretariat, and Ursula Schwantner, Senior Research Fellow at ACER, originally appeared on the Global Partnership for Education blog: https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/piloting-new-learning-assessment-approach.

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