Over the last few years, Zambia has made impressive progress in the way it measures and assesses learning. A GPE grant of US$35.2 million to the country has contributed to improvements in monitoring, evaluation and the use of data for decision-making in the education sector. Now data on learning outcomes are available for grades 2, 5, 9 and 11.
Mizpah Musumali is in charge of tracking learning at Chavuma Boarding Secondary School, in North Western Province. He says that tracking results allows the school to know how students are performing on each subject, and how a teacher may need to increase or shift focus to certain areas.
Each month, students take two tests—mid-term and end of term—to measure how much they are learning. In Mizpah’s school, the revised curriculum was implemented in 2015. All schools in the country will start using it this year.
Professional development is key to better learning
Leadership and management training have been crucial to successfully rolling out the revised curriculum and improving learning outcomes.
More teachers than in the past have received school-based continuous professional development. The government has shown commitment to continuing to invest in this area to ensure that teachers are equipped to better teach and assess learning in classrooms.
Victor Muntangu, head teacher at Chavuma Secondary School, has received the training, and he is now familiar with the documentation he has to use to monitor teachers’ work.
He explains that collecting and using data is important, and that data are powerful to document challenges each individual student may face, which in turn can be taken into consideration by school administration to make improvements.
“The policies that come from the ground are usually very effective”, he says.
More funds have been allocated to teacher management and performance in the annual work plan. Once head teachers’ management skills are improved, it has been shown to have a positive impact and lead to reduced teacher absenteeism, increased teaching time and improved learning outcomes.