Evidence on how successful schools are in transforming resources into student learning is essential to guide policy and management decisions regarding educational provision. Assessment of learning, especially in the foundational areas of language and mathematics, is needed at varying points in the educational careers of students.
Assessment entails measurement of learning, analysis to diagnose problems, and use of the findings to guide remedial action. An effective national assessment policy demands real political commitment to action based on the results, such as reallocation of resources, curriculum reform and/or re-orientation of teaching.
This Guidance Note describes the procedure known as a national assessment—or an international assessment if more than one education system is involved—that provides evidence on student learning. It identifies the issues to weigh up, explains their significance for educational improvement, and the factors which should be considered when discussing national assessment with government decision makers and civil society stakeholders.