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Building assessment capability in Lao PDR
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Building assessment capability in Lao PDR

Research 5 minute read

A new Grade 5 assessment being developed in the Lao People's Democratic Republic will help monitor student achievement against the Lao national primary school curriculum.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) was asked by the Lao Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) to assist them in creating a Grade 5 national assessment. This is in the wake of a successful implementation of the South East Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) for Grade 5 students in Lao PDR and five other South-East Asian countries. The new assessment is designed to help monitor student achievement against the Lao national primary school curriculum in mathematics and Lao language (both reading and writing).

RIES is part of the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES). It is responsible for, among other things, school assessment, curriculum reform, authoring curriculum materials, performing pedagogical research and providing in-service teacher training.

To support RIES in creating suitable test instruments, ACER conducted two technical workshops in Vientiane, the capital city. In the first workshop, held in December 2019, ACER:

  • assisted RIES in developing a Grade 5 assessment framework to guide the development of test instruments in Lao language and mathematics; and
  • developed the capacity of RIES staff to write suitable test items in Lao language and mathematics.

Following on from this workshop, RIES staff created more than 100 items in mathematics and 100 items in Lao language, including reading and writing. ACER staff reviewed translated versions of these items and noted suggestions for improvements. Subsequently, in the second workshop held in February 2020, ACER:

  • supported RIES in the further review of the draft set of items, to ensure they aligned with the Grade 5 assessment framework; and
  • developed the capacity of RIES staff in test item review, test design and item analysis.

As an outcome of the workshops, sets of high-quality mathematics and reading and writing items were produced in Lao language, ready to be assembled into test booklets.

Tests will be administered to students in a field trial – where the psychometric (statistical) properties of the items can be checked. A final set of items can then be selected and administered in a main survey, to measure student achievement against the curriculum. The results can then be used to inform educational policy and practice in Lao PDR.

Financial support for the project was provided by UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

A note on SEA-PLM

The South East Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) for Grade 5 students is a collaboration between the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), UNICEF and ACER.  A set of culturally relevant assessment tools was developed that partner governments – currently six – can use to better measure and understand the status of learning outcomes for students in the primary grades. The initiative also aims to strengthen the capability and capacity of national examination and assessment staff. ■

Read more:
Find more information on SEA-PLM at 

Find more information on ACER’s work on monitoring trends in educational growth through the Centre for Global Education Monitoring.

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