The ACER Centre for Global Education Monitoring (GEM) supports the monitoring of educational outcomes worldwide, holding the view that the systematic and strategic collection, analysis and interpretation of data on education outcomes, and factors related to those outcomes, is required to inform the development of high quality policy aimed at improving educational progress for all learners.
The importance of high quality measurement
I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve amazing progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal – in a feedback loop.
Bill Gates, Measuring progress (annual letter from 2013)
Implicit in this view is the recognition that if data are to inform education policy and practices such as curriculum design, teacher skill development, pedagogical practice, the development of instructional resources, and so on, the data must be systematically collected and of high quality, i.e. valid, reliable and objective.
Data collection that is purposefully designed, of high technical quality and linked to important questions of education research, policy and practice, is an effective way to inform decisions about program effectiveness, to modify practices, and to review and formulate policies for education.
The importance of literacy orientation
It is a central view of the GEM Centre that an effective curriculum develops student skills, knowledge and understandings for the purpose of taking those skills, knowledge and understandings beyond the classroom and into all theatres of daily activity, beyond schooling, to work and other areas of life. Such an education is said to have a literacy orientation.
The importance of well-defined learning metrics
The GEM Centre holds the view that student assessment should identify where students are in their progress along well-defined learning metrics. This approach contrasts with assessments that are oriented to gauging whether students have learnt the content of the curriculum considered appropriate for their age or year level, and measuring how far they are away from where you would like them to be.
GEM sees the process of educational measurement as one of defining dimensions of educational progression and locating learners on those dimensions. Such dimensions are variously referred to as proficiency scales or learning metrics.
The importance of measuring growth
Growth along well-defined learning metrics for all learners is the goal of all education systems and practitioners. In the GEM Centre we see growth for all, regardless of their starting point, or their background, as the core of an equitable approach to education. Gathering data about growth over time – for individual students and cohorts of students – is a core element of monitoring educational outcomes.