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Pakistan: National Education Assessment System

Pakistan: National Education Assessment System

Pakistan: National Education Assessment System

Background

December 26, 2008 - The challenge facing Pakistan today is to not only provide equitable access to it growing student population, but also to ensure that education imparted to these students is effective in supplying them with the necessary skills to fully contribute to society and the economy. Improving the quality of education requires a multi directional approach in order to improve the effectiveness of the learning process (by improving teaching techniques, supplying better learning aids, motivating students to attend school etc). Student assessments which are credible and objective play an important role in this process by providing critical feedback on what and how well students are learning.

The National Education Assessment System (NEAS) was established to undertake systematic evaluations of student learning achievement across Pakistan and share the analytical results with both policy makers and practitioners to inform the education quality reform process. With data that is comparable across regions and over time, NEAS can identify gaps and bring about improvements in the curriculum, teaching and classroom support practices, as well as in the development of learning aids.


Bank Support

NEAS is a key pillar of the Government’s national education policy that focuses on improving the quality of education services and aims to produce life long independent learners. The World Bank is providing a $3.63 million loan, in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) (which is providing funding equivalent to $1.14 million) to support the National Education Assessment System (NEAS).

This technical support is for the design and administration of student assessments, capacity building of technical expertise required for the development and analysis of the assessments, and facilitating the dissemination of findings to stakeholders. Bank support is also directed towards strengthening the administrative and management structure of the assessments system.


Achievements

Since 2003, NEAS has made rapid progress in strengthening both its institutional arrangements and its technical capacity.

Key achievements of NEAS include:

• Establishment of an administrative structure, with the federal as well as all regional assessment centers now both fully functional and fully staffed;
• Intensive capacity building efforts, with technical staff provided access to both international degree programs and in-country training, the latter conducted by the World Bank Institute in partnership with NEAS and the World Bank;
• Successful completion of all planned assessments, including the baseline surveys that establish standard benchmarks against which future trends in student learning will be measured;
• Initial results for levels of student learning in Grade IV and VIII that provide insight into key weakness in the current system (see Graph);
• Improvement in quality of item writing (tests of student competency), instrument design, data collection and sampling procedures, and coverage of the curriculum which leads to an improvement in the overall quality of the assessment;
• Regular dissemination of test results to key stakeholders so that the findings can be incorporated in reform of policy and procedures;
• Development of a communication strategy which includes the launch of a website (www.neas.gov.pk) and circulation of quarterly new letters by federal and provincial assessment centers; and
• Partnership agreements with other education institutions, such as the Institution of Education and Research (IER) Punjab and the Federal College of Education, to strengthen training and development of key technical skills in the assessment system.


Strengthening the Education System

For NEAS to be established as a student assessment system on par with international standards, several key steps towards institutional strengthening, capacity building and improvement in technical quality and processes should be undertaken.

- Further investment in the technical proficiency of key staff is required, in both specialized skills (item writing, sampling, test procedures) and core expertise (report writing, comparative analysis).

- This will facilitate improvements in test and instrument design, and will support robust research and analysis. Extending the dissemination of results and findings to primary stakeholders, particularly teacher trainers, textbook developers and policy makers is important.

- Deeper understanding of the assessment process and stronger linkages between assessment systems and other education sub-departments (such as teacher professional development centers, examination units, curriculum wing, and textbook development) will aid better informed and strategic use of assessment information for improvements in student learning.

The longer term sustainability of NEAS will depend not only its establishment as an autonomous body and but also the degree of integration between the federal and regional assessment centers so that cross learning and implementation of best practice is facilitated. With continuous improvements in test instruments and key technical skills, NEAS will be able to track overall system efficiency as well as individual student performance, and identify key areas for intervention that will lead to improvement of the quality and effectiveness of the education system.


Additional Resources

- Pakistan: Education Brief
Education is important for Pakistan's progress. Despite recent achievements, the country still faces numerous challenges to meet its social and economic development needs. (Read More »)

- The Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools (LEAPS)
A large fraction of rural Pakistani households no longer lives in a village with one or two government schools. Half the population of rural Punjab lives in villages where parents can choose from 7 or 8 schools. (Read More »)

- Pakistan: Development Data
A wide range of social and economic measures on Pakistan, including links to the World Bank's most important online development databases. (Read More »)

- Pakistan: Analysis and Research
Compilation of all the World Bank's publications on Pakistan, with 'search' options and links to analysis and research. (Read More »)

- World Bank Program in Pakistan
Launching pad to all information on World Bank activities in Pakistan.(Read More »)




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