Home | 2011 Workshop

Measuring Learning Outcomes
August 20, 2009 - 1:30 p.m.

Presenters: Jeff Davis, American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Marguerite Clark, World Bank, Fast Track Initiative
Alcyone Vasconcelos, World Bank, Fast Track Initiative

Moderators:Luis Crouch, RTI International
Patrick Collins, USAID Office of Education
There is a growing consensus among donors regarding the importance of going beyond measuring outputs to measure student learning outcomes. Presenters in this highly informative session shared recent experiences and trends across donors on measuring learning outcomes, discussed indicators being used, and shared ways in which these are being measured.

Jeff Davis, from the American Institutes for Research, discussed the basics of outcome measurement. He stressed that there is no “perfect” indicator and that what matters is not so much finding a perfect indicator, but rather establishing a consistent and rigorous method to assess outcomes and to track progress over time at the output and outcome level. Davis praised USAID’s growing emphasis on results and accountability, and discussed in detail the recommendations of the Basic Education Coalition (BEC) on measuring learning outcomes.

Marguerite Clarke, from the World Bank’s Fast Track Initiative (FTI), discussed the Bank’s initiatives to support developing countries in assessing learning outcomes. She referred to a report by Hanushek and Woessmann entitled Education Quality and Economic Growth (2007), which found that improvements in student learning directly correlate with increases in GDP. She also noted that there is a movement among agencies to focus on what children are learning. She presented the activities the Bank is promoting to support low-income countries in this area, which include do-it-yourself toolkits, country level projects, regional workshops, and global programs. On toolkits, she discussed the National Assessment of Educational Achievement, a five-volume series which provides countries with a step-by-step guide to planning, designing, implementing, and using the results of national assessments. Alcyone Vasconcelos provided an overview of FTI and its components, and discussed indicators they are encouraging countries to use to assess learning outcomes. Vasconcelos stressed that while supporting countries in assessing learning outcomes is important, much coordination is needed among donors to avoid duplication and overlap.

Key take away points included insights from the moderators, Luis Crouch and Patrick Collins. Crouch noted that the focus on measuring learning outcomes is an emerging trend in the donor community. While there is a convergence of ideas on the types of indicators that can be used to track learning outcomes, there is also a realization that defining a consistent and effective method of assessing outcomes and tracking progress over time with rigor is as important as defining meaningful indicators. Developing assessment tools that can be easily used by teachers and other administrators at the local level is essential. Donor agencies are providing invaluable assistance to developing countries in assessing student learning outcomes, and it will be crucial for donors to coordinate efforts and avoid “assessment overload.”

To view the presentations, please click on link below:
AIR, Davis : Open
RTI, Crouch : Open
World Bank, Clark : Open
World Bank, Vaconcelos : Open

For questions related to the 2009 Education Workshop,
please contact Rebekah Levi at rlevi@jbsinternational.com