Assessment Approaches and Application:
The Basics of Measurement and Assessment for Policy Dialogue and Action
August 23, 2011 - 11:30 a.m.
||Luis Crouch, Education For All Fast Track Initiative Secretariat
Annie Duflo, Innovations for Poverty Action
Emmanuel Mensah-Ackman, USAID/Ghana
Aabira Sher Afghan, USAID/Malawi
||Marisol E. Perez, USAID/Ghana
This engaging session focused on the basics of measurement and assessment for policy dialogue and action. Marisol Perez, USAID/Ghana, provided an introduction to the session and presenters. Annie Duflo, from Innovations for Poverty Action, shared the experience of the Teacher Community Assistant Initiative in Ghana, and the effective use of impact evaluations to determine what to do and how to spend limited resources, and to learn how to improve programs and their delivery. She noted that results of recent studies point to the need to address learning in the early grades, and discussed how impact evaluations can be used to show how we can get there. Three recent rigorous randomized controlled trials showed cost effective ways to increase learning outcomes in school, and the insights of these studied informed the design of the project in Ghana.
Luis Crouch, from Education For All Fast Track Initiative Secretariat, spoke about measurement and assessment in early literacy programs. He summarized the reasons to measure in four categories: motivate, monitor and manage, report, and prove impact. He noted that in some countries there is a need to motivate governments to engage in such measurement trials. Measurement is also important as a management and monitoring tool. It is essential for reporting on results and is also a way to prove that programs are having the impact they are intended to have.
Emmanuel Mensah-Ackman from USAID/Ghana spoke about the National Literacy Acceleration Program (NALAP) in Ghana. This is a national program in mother tongue literacy instruction. While it is early to assess results, the program is well received. Support from the government to this program has been key, though an increased level of effort will be needed for mother tongue programs given the prevalence and preference in the country for English instruction. Aabira Sher Afghan, USAID/Malawi, presented the findings of the first application of EGRA in Malawi, which was done under the Malawi Teacher Professional Development Support Activity. Findings showed very low scores across all sub-tests. The program is currently in a process of dialogue with the government given that results of this study were not yet released and are being disputed.
Key take away points from the ensuring Q&A session include the realization that while much emphasis has been put on rigorous evaluation and measurement, there is much to learn within policy and system. The work needs to focus on how to use knowledge and results to learn, and the additional efforts needed to explore ways in which we can use M&E in the policy environment we are working in. Another participant concluded that the tools available are more refined than 15 years ago, but that does not mean that results are better. In the past, it was hard to use results to improve systems. In many sector assessments there are still shortages of teachers and supplies, among others. There are more refined tools linking assessment results with intervention, but need to use results to influence policy and system change. For USAID, the question is: “What can we use data for? There are limitations regarding what we can do with the data. We need to think about how we support and build capacity, and make sure the information is there, whether is to learn or to improve.”