Challenges in establishing a learning assessment system: the example of Sierra Leone

Autor(es): Varly, Pierre

Organisation(s): Global Education Monitoring Report Team

Date: 2022

Pages: 9 p.

Serie: Background paper prepared for the Global Education Monitoring Report 2022 spotlight on basic education completion and foundational learning in Africa


In recent years, only 17 out of 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have completed a large-scale learning assessment of international standard quality. Several countries have a variety of assessments in place, including national learning assessments, and some donors have sought to support governments in the development of system-level assessment structures, but few countries have been able to integrate system-level assessments into an integrated strategy to improve foundational learning (RTI International, 2021). In effect, designing and implementing a fit-for-purpose, large-scale learning assessment system is a complex task that requires the collaboration of, and support from, all stakeholders. And yet, large-scale assessments have become a central source of information for policy planning, target setting, as well as regional and international monitoring of education agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda. They are used by policy makers and other stakeholders to provide a robust and standardized understanding of pupils’ learning levels, to identify critical factors associated with learning and to better understand the achievement levels of different population groups or cohorts. Because they use standardized tests, representative sampling and replicable methodologies, large-scale learning assessments enable the assessment of progress over time and the production of sound and meaningful comparisons between peers, be they students or schools. Sierra Leone is championing the development of evidence-based policy making to foster better learning and in particular improve foundational literacy and numeracy. This paper documents the steps it has undertaken as part of its ongoing efforts to develop an integrated, nation-wide system to monitor learning outcomes.

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