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Education & Development

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Working together: The UIS and ACER collaborate to advance education

A recent memorandum of understanding strengthens the collaboration between the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and ACER to promote quality learning for all.

For many decades the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) designed and implemented international, regional and national assessment programs around the world, and provided its expertise to support countries and regional intergovernmental organisations in strengthening their assessment capabilities, particularly in the developing world.

Through the Centre for Global Education Monitoring, ACER is using its long experience and established expertise to advance models of good practice.

The Centre aims to:

  • support education systems to improve learning through capacity development and the delivery of high-quality assessment and reporting programs;
  • develop tools and methodologies to enable countries to undertake education monitoring, and report results internationally; and
  • review existing international, regional and national assessment programs, particularly those addressing student learning outcomes in reading, mathematics and science.

A common interest

A recent memorandum of understanding between the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and ACER brings together two of the world’s leading educational research centres to collaborate in pursuit of their joint interest in promoting quality learning for all.

Professor Ray Adams, Director of ACER’s Centre for Global Education Monitoring, said the joint interest of the UIS and ACER supports the global education agenda articulated in the fourth of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to, ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030. 

Collaboration to advance education

ACER’s collaborative work with the UIS supports the resolutions of the 2015 Incheon Declaration of the World Education Forum, which entrusted UNESCO to lead, coordinate and be the focal point for education within the overall coordination of efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Incheon Declaration resolved to, ‘develop comprehensive national monitoring and evaluation systems in order to generate sound evidence for policy formulation and the management of education systems as well as to ensure accountability..; support capacity development in data collection, analysis and reporting at the country level..; (and) improve the quality, levels of disaggregation and timeliness of reporting to the UIS.’

‘The UIS and ACER have, for several years, been collaborating on a variety of initiatives,’ Professor Adams said. ‘One is the development of empirically supported learning metrics for reading and mathematics, and associated tools and methodologies, that countries can use to effectively and appropriately monitor learning outcomes to inform educational policy.

‘Another is the compilation of a catalogue of learning assessments that provides standardised and comparable descriptive information on public examinations, and national and international assessments at primary and lower-secondary levels in countries across the world.’

Standardised and definitive reporting

The process of monitoring progress towards the fourth Sustainable Development Goal will include both these initiatives. The first will provide the mechanism for standardised reporting of learning outcomes data and underpin capacity-building support for countries, and the second will be the definitive source of data on countries’ assessment practices.

‘Our memorandum of understanding formalises the commitment of the UIS and ACER to cooperate on these two important initiatives, but also acknowledges the benefits of international cooperation in research on learning assessment, and reflects the shared interest in promoting the ideal of quality learning for all,’ Professor Adams said. â– 

Further information:

To find more about ACER’s Centre for Global Education Monitoring, visit

To find more about the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, visit

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