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The Equity Initiative: Data and Evidence to Address the Learning Crisis

Wed, March 28, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hilton Reforma, 2nd Floor, Don Diego 2

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


Equity is at the heart of the Education 2030: “no target should be considered met unless it’s met by all”. This call has substantive implications for planning, policy, and resource allocation – all of which begin with a strong foundation of data on disparities in education outcomes. The theme of the conference, “Re-mapping Global Education”, reflects the need for greater knowledge around who is left behind, and better evidence on effective policy and programmatic solutions for education. This panel, offered under the umbrella of the Education Equity Research Initiative, and bringing the perspectives of international agencies and NGO’s, takes a cross-national perspective to the challenge of equity in learning outcomes, looking at the newly available data, and offering insights from recent studies and policy analysis on the ways to move the needle towards achieving equity by 2030.
The panel begins with a cross-national overview of data on disparities in reaching minimum proficiency benchmarks in reading and numeracy from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), which has constructed an internationally comparable scale from over 160 international, regional, and national assessments. This paper establishes the challenge and brings into focus what is at stake if development continues at current trends. As UIS notes, the disparities between and within countries are often hidden behind the averages, and the true extent of the challenge can’t be seen or addressed until equity is incorporated into the examination of learning data at national levels.
Bringing the analysis closer to the venue of the conference, the second presentation from SUMMA, the Laboratory of Education Research and Innovation for Latin America and the Caribbean, will focus on disparities in educational quality in Latin America. Using data on learning outcomes, teacher quality, and inclusion in seven Latin American countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, SUMMA offers a deeper look into the institutional drivers of inequity and provides recommendations for addressing quality gaps both at the classroom and at the policy/ system level.
As analysts examine learning outcomes data from different contexts, new metrics that allow for aggregation across scales can provide a useful way of standardizing the measure of inequality in outcomes that can be informative for policy decision making. The third presentation offers a new metric for measuring and tracking inequality in learning. The proposed Learning Gini Index (LGI), provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to better understand learning gaps, circumvent inconsistencies across learning metrics, and provide a new tool to inform policy and resource allocation decisions.
Finally, a presentation by the team of the World Development Report 2018, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, underscore the importance of quality data on learning through student assessment, and the need for education systems to act on the available evidence around learning gaps. The report identifies teacher quality and school management as key ingredients for improving learning outcomes, and point out the vast disparities of the types of teachers and schools available to learners from different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. The report’s insights on two important directions: 1) how to make schools work for learners; and 2) how to make systems work for learning – provide a call to action for the education community on steps needed to fulfill the promise of Education 2030.
The Education Equity Research Initiative is a collaborative partnership that connects organizations and individuals committed to building stronger evidence and knowledge for improving solutions for equity in and through education. It serves to help ensure that an equity lens is incorporated into data production and research across all education and development programs and policies. With more than two dozen organizations participating in its work streams and task teams, The Equity Initiative is a vital forum for bringing collective knowledge and expertise together to address the challenge of equity. The organizations in this panel are contributing to building the knowledge base and advancing the field in understanding inequities in education outcomes and developing evidence-based solutions to address them. Learn more at

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