With 617 million children and adolescents worldwide unable to read a simple sentence or handle a basic math calculation the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has embarked on an initiative to link existing international, regional and national assessments to fill a critical data gap on learning during the early grades of education.
This is a critical learning period for children, when curriculums switch from “learning to read”, to “reading to learn”. Learning is contingent on being able to read, which is why the world, through the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), has made it a priority to check that every child acquires the basic skills they need, particularly the ability to read fluently by Grade 3. The only way we will know if we meet this goal is to make sure we have the data to track progress (see our short film).
Currently about 80% of countries assess learning. Yet even when they do, the results cannot be compared internationally because they are based on different methodologies. So we don’t know which countries are making good on their commitments to provide a quality education and which countries are not yet there.
The initiative is an effort to address the problem by linking the data from the different types of learning assessments countries are already conducting. For example, it will enable comparisons between cross-national assessments, such as TIMSS and PIRLS, and regional assessments, such as those conducted by the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE). Through this partnership, we will significantly expand the coverage of available data and better understand where children are learning and where they are not.