The e-Forum on "How to make better use of evaluation data" brought together 329 persons from 50 different countries, 43% of which were from the West African region. Half of them work in Ministries of Education. With a 14% participation level, this e-forum took place in a relaxed atmosphere and the participants showed a strong willingness to share their experiences, whether good or bad and a constructive, critical spirit.
In order to support the debates, experts (teachers, principals, planning directors, journalists, parents of students) took part through an introductory video at each level of discussion. Opinion pieces and resources on the issues discussed were also made available to online participants.
From the three levels of discussion proposed (School and Teachers, National Policy, Community and Advocacy), the main messages were the following:
1. Four types of assessments are used within the classroom: predictive, formative, summative, standardized.
- They are used to tailor teaching and to implement remediation measures.
- At a higher level, they are meant to harmonize, interact and guide.
- Classroom assessment constraints: lack of resources that reduce the number of assessments, lack of consistency in testing and marking, lack of academic and extracurricular factors used to demonstrate results, lack of use of standardized assessment results in schools.
- The usefulness of standardized classroom assessments: 1. in the context of school projects, school pools, districts, communities 2. for the evaluation of the "added value" of schools (orientation). 3. for describing the causes of low performance.
2. National assessments identify and describe different groups of students, their characteristics and the causes of differences between them
- The assessments measure the level of students according to the curriculum followed in the classroom (national examinations) or seek to identify factors that influence the quality of learning (standardized assessments).
- Standardized assessments provide an idea of the academic level of a group of students that is representative of the school population, determine their distribution on a scale of competencies, and provide a better understanding of some of the contextual factors that contribute to their success.
- By looking for factors of success or failure, the authorities at the decentralized level can set up an educational management tool. For schools, it means identifying students in difficulty and unachieved objectives in order to organize additional tutoring or academic support.
- The three main drivers of information quality in an evaluation system are a supportive policy context, an alignment with the education system, and the quality of assessment.
- National dialogue and reciprocity: Governments have the responsibility to present and discuss assessment results at the national level with the society as a whole. Citizens have the right and the obligation to hold the government accountable for reporting assessments results and measures planned.
3. Formal and informal communication exists within schools (reports, listening, exchanges, parents meetings). The results of major analyses of the education system are made available to organized groups and institutions
- The results of learning achievement assessments form a reflection of society: the community, and in particular civil society, must be properly informed, according to the target audience, and involved in finding solutions that will improve the quality of education.
- It is essential to broadly disseminate and discuss the results through periodic meetings (quarterly, semi-annual, annual) between school authorities and its partners: parents, communities, professionals, and partners.
- The communication of the results of standardized assessments with teachers must be done with great care in order to avoid any defensive behaviour that would cause an immediate dismissal of the results.
- Improving the dissemination of information related to the assessments of learning achievements also requires creating syntheses of results, in the form of leaflets, computer graphics, web applications or other easy-to-understand materials.
- The data relevant to the media must take into account the target audience: they are used to advocate school partners in order to strengthen actions to be undertaken.