Uwezo is East Africa’s largest learning assessment. One of its defining features is that the assessment is conducted at the household level, in front of parents and guardians so that they are better informed about the skills their children are learning.
The annual learning assessment methodology means that a massive infrastructure has been built across Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. For some time, at Twaweza we have been exploring the possibilities of leveraging this infrastructure for other data collection both within and outside the education sector. Upcoming updates will include details of how we expanded the indicators collected during the 2015 assessment and how we will work with the Uwezo network on independent monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals.
However another area of exploration is in education and learning itself. Uwezo currently tests all children aged 6-16 on Grade 2 level work. In 2016, based on feedback from stakeholders and experts we wanted to see if we could take this further and assess some higher level skills. We also felt that we had not sufficiently engaged teachers as a constituency. Often teachers take the Uwezo findings as an affront to them and their ability to teach children.
And so Beyond Basics was born. The idea is to test slightly higher level skills at schools to test the capabilities of the Uwezo data collection infrastructure and to understand teachers' expectations of their students' performance and share actual results with them.
The tool tests learning levels of Standard 5 and 6 against Standard 4 levels of Kiswahili and Mathematics. As its name suggests, Beyond Basics goes beyond basic learning skills (writing, reading, and arithmetic) to assess aspects of problem solving skills and other competencies such as comprehension.
In September 2016, Twaweza sampled 200 schools in 10 districts of Tanzania to pilot the assessment. Along with the pilot process, two independent consultants were assigned to accompany assessors in two different districts for the purpose of shadowing and provide independent observation and analysis of the process. The two districts selected were Handeni (Tanga) and Chamwino (Dodoma).
This report presents key findings based on observation of the Beyond Basics process as part of Twaweza efforts to ensure the quality of the process. The major objectives were to:
Assess Head Teachers’ and class teachers’ expectations of how well the students would perform on the test, before the test; and again after the test results were disclosed
Observe the sampling process, the testing procedures, handling of the exercise overall
Explore qualitatively the reasons for discrepancies between expectations of results (before) and the actual results (after) with the Head Teachers and classroom teachers
The full results of the Beyond Basics pilot will be available soon, but you can read the observations of the independent consultants in the mean time.
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