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In Event: The role of evidence in advancing policy to raise learning outcomes equitably for sustainable development
This presentation describes a case study of the possibilities and challenges of using evidence to inform policy and practice in improving the quality of secondary education in developing country contexts.
The focus of this case study is the Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (Tutorial Learning System or SAT) lower and upper secondary education program. SAT is an innovative system for secondary education (grades 7-12) that currently operates in several countries in Latin America. Since 2008, our research team has been engaged in a longitudinal, mixed methods impact evaluation of SAT in Honduras that examines the features of the program that result in improved learning outcomes (see McEwan et al., 2012), including a coherent and innovative method of teacher recruitment and training, resource provision for effective teaching, and mechanisms for professional support, accountability, and incentives.
The presentation will briefly describe how the evidence generated by our research on SAT has been disseminated and shared with stakeholders in Honduras and internationally in a number of forums, including via policy briefs, short videos summarizing our findings, presentations at international conferences, and one-on-one meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Education. The efforts of our team to emphasize that SAT improves learning outcomes have been met with both receptivity and resistance among key educational voices at the national and international levels. In particular, some stakeholders are sceptical of certain features of the SAT program that we have identified as crucial to its success (e.g. the interdisciplinary and culturally-relevant curriculum). To make sense of these reactions to our research evidence, we engage a theoretical framework on typologies of evaluation use which includes instrumental, political, conceptual, and imposed (Weiss, Murphy-Graham & Birkeland, 2005). We also discuss these findings in light of Mark and Henry’s (2003) conceptualization of pathways by which an evaluation can have influence. These frameworks of research utilization are important to consider so that researchers engaged in projects that aspire to inform practice can think strategically about how to maximize research impact, as well as to have realistic expectations regarding the use of evidence among education policy makers. The presentation will conclude by identifying the types of support needed for research to inform policy and practice that achieves equitable, quality education for sustainable development with a particular emphasis on post-primary education in rural areas.