A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) project to evaluate Timor-Leste’s educational assessment capabilities has been completed, reports ACER Research Fellow Debbie Wong.
The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) was commissioned by UNICEF to carry out the needs analysis, which was based on interviews with educational stakeholders including Ministry of Education staff, school leaders, teachers and development partners in Timor-Leste. The analysis found that policymakers and teachers use a range of assessment methods to gauge student ability and system performance, and that all participants were keen to learn more.
Although Timor-Leste does not currently have a national assessment policy or strategy in place, the goals of improving the quality of education and ensuring equality of access for all Timorese people are enshrined in the country’s National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2030. Better educational assessment capacity can help Timor-Leste monitor progress towards these goals.
The analysis not only offers insights into Timor-Leste’s current assessment capacity but also identifies opportunities for capacity development, and recommends a phased approach to building a stronger understanding of assessments, their purposes and uses among policymakers and practitioners. This could provide a base from which to develop a national assessment policy or strategy, in line with the current global drive to build assessment capacity, giving Timor-Leste the capacity to participate in regional or cross-national assessments like the Southeast Asian Primary Learning Metric (SEA-PLM) and to report on progress towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Stakeholder interviews focused on 14 key principles of assessment quality identified in a conceptual framework previously developed by the Centre for Global Education Monitoring (ACER-GEM) and UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, and on classroom-based assessment capacity needs, such as existing assessment methods, use of the information they generate, professional development, challenges and areas for further development. The full analysis was completed by ACER Principal Research Fellow Maurice Walker and Research Fellow Debbie Wong. ■