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Learning Assessment Experts Gather in Bangkok.

The Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP) Secretariat at UNESCO Bangkok successfully organized its first capacity development workshop which focused on large-scale assessments of learning in Bangkok, Thailand from 23 to 26 September 2014.

More than 40 participants from 16 countries in the region and partner organizations actively participated in the four-day workshop. ©UNESCO/A. Tam

As an initial workshop in a series of capacity development activities planned by NEQMAP, this workshop aimed to present an overview on well-known international or regional assessment models as well as national assessments along with usage and possible implications of these assessments for policy formulation. More than 40 participants from NEQMAP member as well as non-member institutions and government organizations from 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and partner organizations attended and benefitted from the workshop.

The workshop took place over four days, each of which focused on different themes. Day 1 started with a session which introduced the general concept of learning assessments, covering the parameters of what, why, when, where and how, followed by discussion on challenges and issues in conducting and implementing large-scale assessments. While Day 2 focused on the discussion on international large-scale assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Day 3 went on with presentations on national assessments in Australia, Republic of Korea and Viet Nam, as well as assessment initiatives such as the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and Early Grade Reading/Mathematics Assessment (EGRA/EGMA).

The workshop then concluded with discussion and a policy debate exercise to illustrate how the results and findings of these and other learning assessments are used in various country contexts and how they influence policy making decisions. The workshop also highlighted where we are now, what we have learned and what we should do to further improve the use of assessment information. Each day’s presentations and theoretical contents were further reinforced by practical sessions, including small group work, discussions and role-playing exercises, aimed to make the workshop engaging and lively.

Participants were particularly keen to learn more about international assessments. They were interested not only in participating in these assessments in the future but also in considering how to contextualize them into their national assessments. In addition, while all countries represented at the workshop have experience of conducting large-scale national or international assessments to varying degrees, they also expressed an inability to make full use of the information derived from these assessments and translate it into policy formulation and reform, due to a lack of institutional and human capacity in most cases. Thus the issue of usage and impact of learning assessment is crucial and calls for further attention on the part of NEQMAP and its partner organizations. 

The workshop received informative and encouraging feedback from the participants, which will be useful in the design of future NEQMAP workshops and capacity development activities. NEQMAP, as a network made up of member institutions representing the vastly diverse countries of the Asia-Pacific, has rich experience and expertise that will be harnessed in the implementation of these future activities. This will include more targeted workshops, including on technical aspects of assessment, and technical assistance based on countries’ expressed requests.

With generous support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Malaysian Fund-in-Trust (MFIT) and Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) towards NEQMAP activities, most of the countries which participated in the workshop were developing country partners of GPE. In addition, assessment experts from NEQMAP member institutions (e.g. ACER, HKPISA Centre, KICE, ASER Centre), UNESCO IIEP as well as partner organizations (e.g. IEA, RTI) contributed tremendously to the workshop by facilitating the sessions and sharing their knowledge and relevant experience with participants.

For more information, please contact Ramya Vivekanandan [r.vivekanandan(at)] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit (EPR).

Written by: Tserennadmid Nyamkhuu [t.nyamkhuu(at)]

Related Links:

• Capacity Development Workshop "Introduction to Large-scale Assessments of Learning"

• Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP)

• Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

• Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE)