Since 2001, Dexis has provided innovative management solutions for a secure and prosperous world. In the last three years alone, Dexis has worked in 90 countries supporting critical missions of agencies in the global development and security assistance space. With triple digit growth in recent years, Dexis was ranked in the top 10 consulting firms by funding at the US Agency for International Development in FY16 and FY17. Dexis was also among the highest rated employers on Glassdoor, where many of its 250-plus employees cited a people-centered leadership and culture as the main drivers to its success.
The purpose of the Education Support Initiative is to recruit, hire and maintain technical, professional, operational, and support staff that supply services to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Education Office and education sector. It includes full-time positions as well as short- and medium-term consultants.
The newest data released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, even though two‐thirds of them are in school (UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Furthermore, although the number of countries conducting national, regional or international assessments has significantly increased over time, about 100 education systems still do not systematically assess student learning outcomes (UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Many countries do not possess data on basic reading and math competencies: out of the 121 countries examined in an assessment of capacity to monitor progress toward SDGs, a third did not possess the data necessary to report on the reading and mathematics proficiency of children at the end of primary school (World Bank, 2018). The Education Commission report also highlights this issue, noting that only about half of developing countries have a systematic national learning assessment at primary school level. At lower‐secondary level, this figure accounts for only 7% of low‐income countries and 26% of lower‐middle‐income countries (Education Commission, 2016). Finally, only fewer than 30% of developing countries participate in some kind of international or regional assessment (Education Commission, 2016).
Possessing and effectively using reliable learning assessment data is essential in order to diagnose the health of the education sector, design appropriate strategies, trace hidden exclusions, foster stronger political engagement, evaluate system progress and that of specific programs, as well as reduce system inefficiencies (World Bank, 2018; UIS factsheet No. 46, 2017). Well‐designed student assessments are critical in diagnosing key determinant factors of existing issues to address their root causes.
Even where learning assessment data are available, these data are not always used effectively with other evidence to provide a strong analysis that would inform the planning cycle. The planning cycle encompasses the following key stages:
- Education Sector Analysis (ESA): analyzing the current situation in the sector;
- Policy Decision: selecting overall goals and strategies;
- Education Sector Plan (ESP) preparation: defining precise objectives and programs;
- Implementation: annual planning through operational plans and budgets’ updates;
- Monitoring and Evaluation: measuring progress for corrective action.
We are seeking two individual consultants to implement research on the use of learning assessment data in education sector planning in 2-4 African countries. One consultant will have deep expertise in education sector in francophone Africa, and one consultant will have similar expertise in anglophone Africa. Consultants will implement an existing research plan to explore how data are used in each of its phases (i.e. ESA, policy decision, ESP preparation, implementation and M&E). However, while the study will examine data’s use during the implementation of an ESP, it will not examine whether and how programs informed by learning assessments were implemented and whether they had effects on student outcomes, as these questions go beyond the issues covered in this study.
Specific objectives are as follows:
- Generate context-specific knowledge about the use of learning assessment data to inform national and global actors;
- Produce specific recommendations to countries participating in the study to improve their practices when using learning assessment data in different phases of the planning cycle;
- Inform USAID and other donors technical cooperation and system strengthening work with the up-to-date evidence on the use of learning data;
- Engage in and foster partnerships working to improve the use of learning assessment data.
The research study follows a case study design. It will allow for the analysis of specific cases and national contexts so as to unveil the complexity lying in the interaction of different factors influencing the use of learning assessment data. Each consultant will be responsible for up to two in-depth country-level case studies.