Investing in Learning: the Case for Strengthening the Collection and Use of Learning Assessment Data

Written on 30 Apr 21 by Margi Bhatt
Student assessment
Emergency and refugee education


INEE’s new policy paper offers donors, national governments, and humanitarian and development actors recommendations for strengthening the evidence base on learning assessments to increase the quality of education provided for children and youth caught in crisis and conflict.  

In order to ensure quality learning outcomes for all, a central objective of the Education 2030 Agenda, we need better evidence about the learning needs and learning results of the most marginalized children and youth. 

Quality and equitable learning is important for all learners but especially critical for those who are crisis-affected because they are much less likely to receive it. Children and youth caught in crisis are excluded deliberately or for practical reasons from participating in national assessments, rendering them and their needs invisible within national education data management systems, which ultimately leads to ill-informed education programming, policy, and funds allocation. 

In order to address this gap in inclusive learning assessment data, the Quality and Equitable Learning Outcomes workstream within INEE’s Education Policy Working Group has put forth a policy paper to support donors, national governments, and humanitarian and development actors. The paper, Investing in Learning: the Case for Strengthening the Collection and Use of Learning Assessment Data in EiE Contexts,  is available in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and offers guidance and specific actions for each type of actor to work towards increasing and improving the measurement of holistic learning outcomes for crisis-affected learners. The paper also importantly highlights the cost of inaction.

Investing in Learning: the Case for Strengthening the Collection and Use of Learning Assessment Data in EiE Contexts

The paper builds on two mapping exercises, capturing both academic and wellbeing-related assessment tools and measurement frameworks used in crisis and conflict settings. These mappings cover programmatic measurement approaches, global measurement frameworks, assessment tools, and monitoring and results frameworks. The mappings demonstrate what quality and equitable education in crisis and conflict settings constitutes, and how it can be assessed at the program and individual learning levels. It also highlights the linkages between measurement at the programs (national) level and global measurement frameworks.

The policy paper calls for collaborative and concerted action to improve the learning outcomes and experiences of children and youth affected by crisis. Recommendations for national governments include:

  • Integrate crisis-affected children and youth within national education data management systems, ensuring ethical standards and protection safeguards are applied to prevent discrimination.
  • Include children and youth in crisis and conflict contexts when establishing national proficiency benchmarks so that proficiency standards are inclusive of crisis-affected learners.
  • Use learning assessment data to evaluate learning policies and programs within conflict and crisis contexts, and integrate evidence-based approaches within national inclusive education policy and practices.
  • Leverage the support of humanitarian and development partners to assess the learning needs and outcomes of children and youth in conflict and crisis contexts
  • Establish an inclusive process for sharing data and evidence between all stakeholders, including conflict and crisis-affected teachers and students, in order to achieve greater equity within national assessment systems.

We know that a child is more than simply a tick on the attendance roll, a student number, or an exam mark. Children are social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual beings. Children have the potential to build a more peaceful, equitable and just world and adults are responsible for supporting them to achieve that potential. We hope these resources will support the adults who carry this responsibility. 

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