Assessing national achievement levels in education

Author(s): Greaney, Vincent; Kellaghan, Thomas

Organisation(s): World Bank

Date: 2008

Pages: xiv-161 p.

This introductory book describes the main features of national and international assessments, both of which became extremely popular tools for determining the quality of education in the 1990s and 2000s. This increase in popularity reflects two important developments. First, it reflects increasing globalization and interest in global mandates, including Education for All (UNESCO 2000). Second, it represents an overall shift in emphasis in assessing the quality of education from a concern with inputs (such as student participation rates, physical facilities, curriculum materials, and teacher training) to a concern with outcomes. This emphasis on outcomes can, in turn, be considered an expression of concern with the development of human capital in the belief (a) that knowledge is replacing raw materials and labor as resources in economic development and (b) that the availability of human knowledge and skills is critical in determining a country's rate of economic development and its competitiveness in an international market. The purposes and main features of national assessments are described in chapter 2. The reasons for carrying out a national assessment are considered in chapter 3, and the main decisions that have to be made in the design and planning of an assessment are covered in chapter 4. Issues (as well as common errors) to be borne in mind in the design, implementation, analysis, reporting, and use of a national assessment are identified in chapter 5. In chapter 6, international assessments of student achievement, which share many procedural features with national assessments (such as sampling, administration, background data collected, and methods of analysis), are described.

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