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Sustaining and Institutionalizing Classroom Assessments in Liberia’s Accelerated Learning Program

Tue, March 24, 1:45 to 3:15pm, Hyatt Regency Miami, Floor: 24th, Petite Suite #1

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session (English)

Proposal

This panel presentation will discuss lessons learned from the development of an assessment system and materials for the Accelerated Learning Program in Liberia.
Globally, approximately 263 million children and youth are out of school. Poverty, conflict, and other forms of marginalization can limit a child’s ability to attend school and make it difficult for them to complete school. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals outline a global commitment to ensuring universal access to a quality primary education; although, for some children, the formal school system may not be an option. Accelerated learning programs are flexible education programs aimed at providing quality and age-appropriate learning for out-of-school and over-age children. These programs, with a focus on quality teaching and learning approaches, provide all learners with certified education that is equivalent to the conventional school system and delivered in a way that is more accessible than the formal system. Using an accelerated curriculum, learners complete primary school in a shorter amount of time, building key literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills.
Approximately 62% of primary-aged children in Liberia are out of school. In 1998, the government of Liberia introduced the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) as an alternative mechanism to enable over-aged and out-of-school learners. The target audience was children whose education had been disrupted during the country’s prolonged civil war as a way to provide flexible and relevant education to these learners. ALP condenses six years of the primary education cycle into three years. The program is delivered in three levels, each equivalent to two years of primary schooling. It is based on the national curriculum and covers four core subjects—mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies—and various life skills—employability training, conflict resolutions, and parenting—to meet the evolving needs of over-age learners.
Since then, the government of Liberia has also enacted the Learner Eligibility, Assessment, and Certification Policy, which stipulates that all schools implementing the ALP will use a standardized level-completion assessment. Approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE), the standardized assessments promote consistency across programs and assure learners’ readiness; they are administered by a trained teacher, monitored by the school principal, and results are certified by each district’s education officer. Learners complete summative assessments at the end of levels I, II, and III; learners also complete a placement assessment when they enter the program to ensure they enroll at the correct level.
To develop these assessments, the Accelerated Quality Education for Liberian Children (AQE) team mapped mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies skills from the MoE primary school curriculum to the ALP curriculum. AQE developed assessment questions, often with multiple sub-items, as the assessment content. Questions’ sub-items reflect increasing levels of difficulty within each skill. They also provide an opportunity to evaluate various facets of each skill and determine the most contextually appropriate manner to assess content. AQE piloted the assessment questions in conventional primary schools to validate the contents’ reliability in accurately assessing learners’ performance, and determining whether a student is ready to be promoted to the next level of the ALP. After piloting, the final grade-level questions were combined into assessments that correspond to ALP’s levels and could be used for placement and completion.
In addition to the assessments, AQE developed supplementary materials, including assessor guides, scoring guides, and training modules, that support the MoE, school principals, and teachers in implementing and managing the assessment system. Through focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and targeted observations, AQE refined the assessment system with a focus on sustainability and institutionalization. Working closely with the MoE, AQE is endeavoring to institutionalize the assessment system through capacity building for central-, county-, district-, and school-level personnel around assessment validation, implementation, scoring, and certification. Through their combined efforts, learners will be promoted and transitioned through the Liberian formal school system.

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