ERCE 2019 pilot program to develop learning capacity of students
The pilot program of the Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (ERCE 2019) began in May 2018.
In May, the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE) initiated the 2019 Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (ERCE) with a pilot program in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The activities that are part of this stage of the study for countries with the northern hemisphere school calendar will end in Mexico in June, while countries with the southern hemisphere school calendar will end theirs between August and November 2018.
As in previous years, 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are participating in the study to measure learning achievements in primary school as well as factors associated with progression or regression. For the first time, an innovation module will be applied to measure socio-emotional skills.
The pilot program of the Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (ERCE 2019) began in May 2018 with a major deployment in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, with the principal goal of testing the study instruments on a large scale prior to their final application in 2019. This evaluation is being led by the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE), which is coordinated by the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago).
In this stage, tests were applied to evaluate third and sixth graders' knowledge in reading, writing, math, and sciences (the last subject was only applied to sixth graders). Also, questionnaires on factors related to learning were applied to teachers, directors, students and their families. The goal of these questionnaires is to understand the influence of elements such as school infrastructure, teacher training, and belonging to an indigenous group, among many others. The pilots are also an opportunity to verify the proper functioning of procedures and logistical aspects required to apply such a large-scale assessment.
For countries with the northern hemisphere school calendar, the pilot program will end in June 2018 with the application in Mexico, and then it will continue between August and November in countries with the southern hemisphere school calendar. In this context, a workshop on "Data collection, coding, and procedures" will be held in Quito, Ecuador from June 11 to 13. This training workshop will cover all aspects necessary for the final part of the operational process in the participating countries, such as entering the data and coding open-ended questions from the survey instruments.
ERCE 2019 and the E2030 Agenda
The ERCE 2019 pilot program included an innovation questionnaire for the first time. This questionnaire is designed to measure students' socio-emotional skills in line with the challenges set out by the E2030 Education Agenda as part of the international commitment to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
For Claudia Uribe, director of the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), the launch of ERCE 2019 provides continuity for LLECE's efforts to measures educational quality on a regional level, contributing substantially to a fulfillment of the E2030 Education Agenda. “LLECE is working alongside these countries to monitor learning outcomes beyond basic skills in recognition of the importance of taking into account other aspects of learning that are critical to meeting the challenges of today's world," she said.
According to Dr. Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, Cuba's Education Minister, participating in the ERCE 2019 study is an opportunity to continue improving and transforming the quality of primary education in that country. For the minister, "Assessing levels of learning, behavior, and integral development of our students in primary school is a guarantee that they will be better prepared to move through subsequent levels of the national education system." Minister Velásquez said the pilot program has been successful and better prepares the country for final application of the study in 2019.
In addition, Minister Velásquez said, "The ERCE 2019 study is helping to activate all of the supports in our national education system, which is currently undergoing its third reform. These two processes--ERCE and the reform--are complementary. There is no doubt that they will contribute to elevating the quality of education and fulfilling the E2030 agenda, especially the SDG4."
For his part, Andrés Navarro, Education Minister of the Dominican Republic, expressed his satisfaction with the application of the pilot in preparation for ERCE 2019 in that country. The pilot included 68 schools, with broad acceptance by both the educational community and families, he said.
"We have great expectations with this study, especially because we are ensuring that all the policies we are implementing to improve educational quality are based on concrete evidence. This effort is a turning point in the logical course of education, not only in our country but throughout the region. We are putting resources and effort towards the application of the ERCE in 2019, and I know it will provide information and instruments that will enable us to continue advancing toward improving educational quality in the Dominican Republic," Minister Navarro said.
The General Coordinator of the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE), Atilio Pizarro, emphasized that the pilot will enable the collection of empirical data that will be used to develop the instrument with the highest technical standards: "Also, the participating countries have the opportunity to verify the correct execution of all the operational processes that implementation of a study of this nature entails so that they can identify weaknesses in the process that have to be strengthened for the definitive assessment in 2019."
The unique characteristics of this pilot program include international observation by some LLECE countries and an opportunity for south-south cooperation that is also an opportunity to develop capacity through the exchange of experience and knowledge as part of a broader and longer-term strategy among the countries.