Capacity building: Examples

The GEM Centre takes an active role in providing capacity building for researchers and policymakers, often in partnership with other organisations, and particularly in Asia-Pacific countries.

Capacity analysis and implementation support

Capacity building in the context of MTEG in Afghanistan

A capacity development framework was developed jointly with the Minister of Education in Afghanistan for Afghanistan's national assessment team. A high level goal was established, namely, to develop and implement a learning assessment program in Afghanistan to inform education policy makers and educational practitioners on the quality of education outcomes in Afghanistan. The framework defined, examined past and proposed new learning activities and learning outcomes, and identified capacity indicators that were judged to lead to the goal. To support the implementation of the Monitoring Trends in Educational Growth program in Afghanistan, several workshops were provided.

National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India

ACER was part of a consortium providing technical support and capacity building for the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India. Between 2014 and 2016 ACER provided activities to support the design and implementation of the inaugural Class X National Achievement Survey (NAS). The capacity building activities included:

  • working alongside NCERT staff to draw samples, develop technical standards, develop a coherent assessment framework, select items using trial statistics, develop translation procedures and analyse results
  • providing theoretical and practical workshops, for example, on sample design and interpreting assessment and contextual data
  • developing a set of project legacy support documents including a handbook for large-scale assessment in the Indian context and six manuals on how to design and undertake technical areas of the NAS in item writing, linguistic quality assurance, field operations, data management, sampling, and data analysis and interpretation
  • developing an online reporting tool which will be used to produce Grade X state profile statistics and reports.

Further information about the NAS is available from NCERT’s project website.

Indonesia National Assessment Centre

For Indonesia National Assessment Centre, ACER has organised several types of capacity development activities. These include:

  • short study visits for Indonesian staff to ACER, on the development of a large scale computer based assessment delivery platform: system architecture; database design; item banking; security; helpdesking; user experience acceptance testing; candidate management; cloud hosting
  • workshops
  • technical meetings in Indonesia on computer based test delivery in Indonesia and the psychometrics of mode effects and determining the equivalence of parallel forms.

Pacific Island Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA )

ACER staff are using GEM Centre expertise and experience to provide system strengthening and capacity development support to a number of Pacific Island countries participating in a regional assessment program known as PILNA (Pacific Island Literacy and Numeracy Assessment). The support has been delivered through the Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Support will also be given to the EQAP teams on data analysis, reporting and dissemination to stakeholders. ACER will provide advice and support in the design and development of an improved regional assessment program for the future.

Techncial support for countries participating in Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM)

The first step in providing support for the SEA-PLM countries has been an orientation visit by the ACER SEA-PLM team to gain an understanding of the level of capacity in each of the countries and to introduce the country team members to the relevant areas and staff back at ACER who will be able to provide support where needed. The second string of capacity development has been a series of regional workshops which have covered areas such as assessment frameworks, item development, sampling, data management and field operations. Looking to the future ACER will carry out workshops in coder training and data analysis. The third area of capacity development is the allocation of staff on a needs basis to countries where special conditions may arise.

Assessment-policy interface

Large-scale learning assessments: A handbook for the Indian context (2015)

The GEM Centre, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan Technical Cooperation Agency (RMSA-TCA), managed by Cambridge Education, have developed a handbook to support the development and implementation of large-scale assessment projects in India. The handbook is intended to support the capacity building of educational policymakers and planners as well as academic and technical staff involved in planning and conducting assessment projects.

The handbook discusses the key areas for robust learning assessments. It includes discussion on the policy goals and issues that learning assessments may address. The handbook is  complemented by a series of six in-depth guides specifically to support the National Achievement Survey (NAS) in India.

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics (SEAMEO RECSAM): 1st Symposium on PISA: Critical review of the Findings and Mapping the Action (October 2014)

ACER contribution:    

  • Keynote ‘Understanding PISA and Its Impact on Policy Initiative: A Review of the Evidence’
  • Workshop ‘Understanding and Analysing PISA 2012 Dataset’ to support the learning and skills of education ministry and research staff in large-scale assessment data analysis
  • Symposium book (forthcoming)

UNESCO Bangkok: Capacity Development Workshop on Analyzing and Understanding Learning Assessment for Evidence-Based Policy Making (September 2015)

ACER contributed with workshops on the following topics:

  • Developing analytical frameworks.
  • Introduction to statistics and hypothesis testing.
  • Introduction to regression analysis.
  • Introduction to survey data structure.
  • Introduction to Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM).
  • Presenting and using assessment results.

Using large-scale assessments of students' learning to inform education policy: Insights from the Asia-Pacific region (September 2015)

The GEM Centre has undertaken research in partnership with UNESCO-Bangkok’s Network on Educational Quality in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP) region, to examine the ways in which large-scale assessments of students’ learning are being used in education policy processes in the Asia-Pacific region, and to identify important factors that influence the use of assessment data for decision-making.


The GEM centre capacity building workshops are based on the key areas of a robust assessment system, and cover topics such as:

  • Large-scale assessment components and processes.
  • Test design, item development and review.
  • Item Response Theory.
  • Understanding described proficiency scales.
  • Sample design and sampling methods.
  • Sample weighting and replicate weighting.
  • Introduction to statistical analysis.
  • Quality assurance in field operations.
  • Linguistic quality assurance.
  • Developing a background questionnaire framework and questionnaire design.
  • Approaches used to code student responses to test items.
  • Complex survey analysis.
  • Classroom based assessment; building assessment literacy.
  • Reporting and dissemination.