Rationale and definition:
The indicator measures the percentage of girls and boys who are “proficient” in broad learning outcomes, and at a minimum in reading and in mathematics. Proficiency will need to be defined through national level standards, but should cover the ability to read, decode, comprehend, and analyze text in the primary language of instruction, and to understand advanced mathematical concepts, reason, and resolve complex problems.
While the mathematics measure is easier to compare across countries, each country will need to identify its own set of standards for proficiency. It is recommended that there be a serious effort to benchmark national standards against comparable international standards where they exist. It is also recommended that this indicator be measured through either school-based or household-based assessments annually to track progress of the education system. The fundamental danger of skills-based indicators is that such indicators can only capture a small slice of the range of competencies that students are expected to acquire; assessing a subset can often focus education systems too exclusively on that subset, thereby leading to neglect of the broader set of competencies. This indicator is intended to measure the baseline or minimum set of skills expected of students at the end of the lower secondary schooling cycle. A broader indicator should be designed to ensure that other competencies are not neglected.
Opportunities for disaggregation to be reviewed once the indicator has been defined.
Comments and limitations:
Proficiency standards do not exist systematically within countries; we recommend that countries identify/adopt a core set of standards that are designed with reference to global standards, where they exist.
Other international efforts such as the Learning Metrics Task Force recommend measuring proficiency in mathematics, amongst others, at the end of lower secondary. We support the ongoing efforts of the Learning Metrics Task Force to develop the indicators to track these areas globally. This new indicator should build on the experiences of existing programs, including the Monitoring of Learning Achievement (MLA), Program on the Assessment of Student Achievement (PASA), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SAQMEQ), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
We also support ongoing efforts by the Task Force, UNESCO, UNICEF and other organizations in developing international benchmarks for these indicators, recognizing the variation of education systems and contexts across countries.
Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:
Primary data source:
Administrative data, or school-based or citizen led learning assessments.
Potential lead agency or agencies: