Can we still implement national learning assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic? Experiences from Mexico during the H1N1 outbreak

Organisation(s): World Bank; Russian Federation. Ministry of Finance

Date: 2020

Pages: 3 p.

The current international context represents a challenge to the planning and implementation of large- scale assessments around the world. Large-scale assessments tend to be administered in classrooms at schools (or through household surveys), and neither approach to administration is possible at this time. Likewise, the emphasis of many countries is to enable students to continue learning through distance education at home during the foreseeable future. Some countries, like the United States, have already decided not to enforce testing requirements for students in elementary and middle school due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Other countries are currently determining whether there will be delays or cancelations in the implementation of their large-scale assessments. In this context, lessons can be drawn from the implementation of national assessments in Mexico, which had been affected by the A/H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak in 2009. While lessons from the swine flu outbreak are important to keep in mind, the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented. It will be important to ensure that children return to school, especially those at higher risk of dropping out, once the outbreak is controlled. Similarly, international assessment studies post COVID-19 will have to inform whether the pandemic widened achievement gaps between students from low- and high-income backgrounds, both within and between countries. Therefore, countries must put in place measures to ensure that the current COVID-19 global emergency does not impact on the learning gains accomplished in recent years.

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