Schooling Is Not Education! Using Assessment to Change the Politics of Non-Learning

The immediate role for expanded assessment is to sound the alarm about a widespread stagnation of learning at very low levels despite a dramatic increase in school enrolments and education expenditures. It is clear that the main cause of the schooling-learning gap is not lack of classroom inputs, but the political economy of education. However, it is not clear that we know the answer to the learning challenge, or that there is one answer. The correct or practical responses to the learning stagnation will vary by country, and doubtless within countries. An expanded national and international regime of learning assessments will be invaluable in the search for those answers and in creating pressure for their implementation.

The report recommends:

  • Governments, particularly in developing countries, should prioritise the development and rollout of assessments targeted to measure learning performance of cohorts of children from early grades through high school.
  • The primary force for successful change will be domestic and grassroots, engaging parents and other stakeholders in the struggle for reform.
  • The role for outsiders—and aid agencies in particular—will be secondary. However, multilateral bodies and the UN system have an important role in setting global norms and standards.