The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for a greater focus on inclusiveness, equity and quality in education, for which comparatively little data currently exist. In order to enable monitoring of the proposed new education targets, in particular Target 4.1 (By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes), cross-nationally comparable data are needed in areas such as learning outcomes. The Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF), an inter-agency network established to enhance the knowledge base on children’s learning performance, recommended a variety of data collection methods to assess learning opportunities and outcomes, including household surveys, particularly in countries where there are large numbers of out-of-school children. The Global Partnership for Education also calls for strengthening of education data collection through household surveys, in particular regarding learning outcomes. Against this background, work began in 2014 on the development of a new module that includes simple questions to assess reading and numeracy skills. The module also includes questions on parental support/involvement in education.
In 2014, UNICEF convened a technical advisory group composed of leading experts from various institutions (ASER/Pratham, Education for All Global Monitoring Report, Research Triangle Institute, Save the Children, South Methodist University and UNESCO Institute for Statistics) to provide technical advice and support towards the development of methodological guidelines, survey instruments and indicators for the collection and analysis of data on learning outcomes. Since late 2014, three rounds of technical consultation meetings have been organized. Through these technical consultations, draft instruments to collect data from mothers/caregivers of children age 7-14 years were prepared.
A small-scale pre-test focusing on the identification of problems concerning the content, format and flow of the draft module was conducted in Koforidua, Ghana in early November, 2015. Based on a household listing exercise in three target villages, a purposive sample was selected to administer the module, targeting children age 7-14. The sample included children in school, out-of-school and from primary and secondary level to assess the feasibility of the instrument in these different groups. The module was administered to a total of 46 children and their respective mothers/caregivers. Analyses of the behavior coding forms (completed by observers) and comments and feedbacks collected through de-briefing sessions with interviewers provided detailed suggestions and recommendations for further refinements to the learning module.
MICS6 Field-Test in Belize
Following Ghana, the module was included in the MICS6 field-test in Belize, which tested a number of other MICS modules in addition to the learning assessment. A total of 61 learning assessments were completed. Additional qualitative data from focus groups with interviewers and debriefings with field supervisors were also collected. Results indicated that questions on parental participation needed additional work to improve interviewee comprehension. Further, children have difficulty understanding the consent process, for which better protocols are being developed in line with their developmental age. Finally, interviewers are able to control the environment of the assessment to a certain extent, though additional assistance from parents is necessary to create better assessment conditions for the child.
Field-Test in Kenya
The module was further refined in terms of the questions as well as protocols for training interviewers and field implementation. These were tested in Kenya in May/June 2016. Apart from field testing, the performance of the module was also compared against a well-known reading and numeracy assessment instrument, Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). Analysis of the data from the exercise is ongoing.
Inclusion in Global MICS6 pilot in Costa Rica
MICS piloted the new instruments for the sixth round of MICS in Costa Rica. Along with other modules proposed for MICS6, the learning assessment, with lessons learnt from Kenya and prior experiences, was included in the pilot. The assessment was included as part of the new questionnaire for children age 5-14.
Results from all of the field-tests have been compiled into a MICS methodological paper
Release of module in MICS6
The module was released as part of the standard MICS6 tools. The tools can be accessed here.