Ensuring all children learn is a top priority for GPE, with improved and more equitable learning outcomes as the first of the three goals in GPE’s 2020 Strategic Plan. GPE has recognized the critical role measurement plays in improving learning outcomes by supporting countries to strengthen their learning assessment systems over the last several years. Driven by a requirement that countries applying for an implementation grant have a system or mechanism in place to monitor learning outcomes or plan to use GPE funding for this purpose, a large majority of GPE implementation grants include support for learning assessment activities.
A key mechanism for supporting learning assessment systems was the Assessment for Learning (A4L) initiative. It was launched in 2017 and GPE has now successfully concluded A4L. An independent summative evaluation of the initiative conducted in 2020 provides a review of the results achieved under A4L, an analysis of whether and how the initiative contributed to its goals and a consideration of what worked well and what hindered impact.
Supported by two foundations (Porticus and Dubai Cares), A4L complemented GPE’s grantmaking efforts, aiming to strengthen learning assessment systems and promote the holistic measurement of learning at the national and global levels. The initiative focused on three major areas:
- Development of a diagnostic tool for national learning assessment systems. The GPE Secretariat contracted the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to design and launch a diagnostic toolkit – the Analysis of National Learning Assessment Systems (ANLAS) – to systematically gather and assess information about a country’s learning assessment system, in orderto inform the education sector planning process. The tool was piloted in three GPE partner countries – Ethiopia, Vietnam and Mauritania.
- Support to regional assessment networks. The GPE Secretariat provided direct support to two regional assessment networks – the Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP) and the Teaching and Learning Educators’ Network for Transformation (TALENT), in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this support, networks hosted multiple workshops to build capacity for learning assessment, produced research and learning products related to the measurement of learning and facilitated the sharing of knowledge and expertise.
- Support for the measurement of 21st century skills. Recognizing an increasing global and national focus on measuring skills beyond core academic subjects of literacy and numeracy, the GPE Secretariat undertook a landscape review of 21st century skills (21CS) to elucidate the role GPE could take in supporting partner countries to embed 21CS into their education systems. The Brookings Institution, along with NEQMAP and TALENT, made valuable inputs into this work.
The A4L evaluation looked at the extent to which the initiative achieved its intended outputs, outcomes and goals, how relevant the project was at country and global levels, whether the activities were implemented as planned, to what extent the initiative catalyzed support for learning assessment systems on the part of GPE, and whether targeted financing is a valuable modality to support GPE’s work in specific thematic areas. The evaluation team’s methodology included a review of project documents, a web scan of relevant articles and mentions and semi-structured interviews with 46 project stakeholders.