Policy Linking for Measuring Global Learning Outcomes
USAID has worked closely with global partners including with the World Bank, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), UK's Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) to support the development of Policy Linking for Measuring Global Learning Outcomes.
Policy linking is a method used to link student assessments to a common scale. It allows countries to use their existing assessments – sub-national, national, and cross-national – for reporting on global student learning outcome indicators, including Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicator 4.1.1 (a, b, and c) and the USAID Foreign Assistance (“F”) Indicators related to math and reading. These indicators require data on the percentage of students achieving global minimum proficiency in each country.
Through policy linking, countries set assessment-specific global benchmarks based on minimum proficiency descriptors associated with a common scale. The results can be used to:
- Compare student assessment results across countries that have linked their assessments to a common scale
- Examine the results on different assessments within countries, including assessments in national languages
- Aggregate assessment results across countries to report on global student learning outcome indicators
- Track assessment results on a sub-national, national, and cross-national basis over time to monitor progress
Policy Linking and the Global Proficiency Framework
Policy linking works by linking student assessments to the Global Proficiency Framework (GPF), which describes the Global Minimum Proficiency Levels expected of students at grades one to nine in reading and mathematics. The four levels of the GPF—Below Partially Meets, Partially Meets, Meets, and Exceeds Global Minimum Proficiency—comprise common scales for each grade and subject. See the Global Proficiency Framework Overview.
Student assessments are linked to the GPF through global benchmarks that are based on the difficulty of each assessment. At a given grade and subject, less difficult assessments will have higher benchmarks, and more difficult assessments will have lower benchmarks on the common scale in the GPF.
Policy Linking Workshops
Policy linking is implemented through a judgmental process that begins with a country or assessment organization reviewing the alignment between their assessment and the GPF. This alignment is then reviewed by UIS's 4.1.1 Review Panel before a country continues forward with hosting a policy linking workshop in which local teachers and specialists (called panelists) make judgements on whether minimally proficient learners would correctly answer each of the items on the assessment. During the workshop, the panelists complete three tasks for setting global benchmarks on each assessment:
- Task 1: Re-check the content alignment between the assessment and the GPF using a standardized procedure
- Task 2: Match each of the assessment items with the appropriate levels and global descriptors of the GPF
- Task 3: Set global benchmarks (partially meets, meets, and exceeds) using a standardized procedure
Following the workshop, countries or assessment organizations then submit the results of the workshop, including details on consistency of ratings and panelist confidence in their ratings to the 4.1.1 Review Panel to determine whether results can be used to report on SDG 4.1.1.
The method and tasks are explained in the Policy Linking Toolkit. The toolkit provides step-by-step guidance and comes with workshop materials, including slide decks, that can be used to implement a policy linking workshop to set global benchmarks.
Interested Hosting Your Own Policy Linking Workshop?
USAID will support in-depth training on facilitating a Policy Linking workshop for those who are interested. Complete the linked form to express interest in training or other support to hold a Policy Linking workshop.
Policy Linking in Action
Learn about the Government of Rwanda’s experience piloting Policy Linking in place of its existing benchmarking practices. They desired a stronger basis for evaluating student performance, and wanted to measure progress against the Sustainable Development Goals.
Have a Question about Policy Linking?
For more information on policy linking, please email us at [email protected].