Improving Education through Assessment, Innovation, and Evaluation

How is progress toward educational goals, both local and global, measured? Although assessment is most often seen as a tool to measure the progress of a single student, it also allows individuals, communities, and countries to track the quality of schools and educational systems. In theory, publicly available data enable policymakers to craft effective policies and students and parents to better choose among educational options. The authors review promising national and international efforts and offer recommendations for creating and implementing assessments in developing countries. Testing offers a means to track the outcomes of schools and educational systems. But how can education reformers identify the practices that led to improved or worsened outcomes? Deciding whether an educational innovation is responsible for a change in student outcomes is difficult at best, yet essential for efficiently implementing the most effective educational programs. Randomized controlled experiments can produce the most credible evaluation of programs, including their cost-effectiveness. With more reliable information from such experiments, education reformers can focus efforts and resources on the programs that have been found to be most effective.
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