Learning Assessments Occurring at Millennium Village Pampaida, Nigeria
By: Adamu Bulama and Angelique Mahal
Adamu Bulama is the Millennium Village Education Coordinator at MV Pampaida, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Based on the UWEZO (www.uwezo.net) learning assessment model and framework, MV Pampaida began in May 2014 the process of developing, reviewing, and conducting literacy (in Hausa and English) and numeracy learning assessments for primary grades 1-3 (Hausa Assessment, Numeracy Assessment). By July 2014, learning assessments were approved and being implemented in schools, and by October 2014 a second-round occurred, then at the end of November 2014 a third-round occurred. The first and second rounds were conducted in MV1 schools while the third round occurred at both MV1 and MV2 schools. How did this technical and tested process occur within a short span of seven months, what did it entail, and what is being done with the assessment results?
Collaboration and partnership jumpstarted the process as support from colleagues in New York, Senegal, and MV sites in Ghana and Rwanda reviewed the UWEZO framework, exchanged ideas and questions, shared tools, and locally-adapted technical guidelines. After the MV Pampaida Education Coordinator returned to Pampaida from a one-week training on learning assessments at MV SADA in Ghana, he scheduled a meeting with the Education Secretary of Ikara Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) and key heads of sections such as the Heads of School Services and of Quality Assurance to inform them of the learning assessment initiative. The reaction was welcoming and encouraging as there had previously been an attempt to introduce a similar activity. It was at this meeting that the Ikara LGEA Education Secretary identified experts within the Ikara LGEA and formed an expert working committee to review the literacy and numeracy assessments, conduct sample assessments, and develop scoring and reporting templates. A separate body was established also by the Ikara LGEA Education Secretary to review the instruments after the test-run, which led to the final approval by the Secretary of the assessment tools, the assessment framework guide, and their use in the schools. Committed to their mission of improving learning at MV Pampaida schools, the MV Pampaida education team, in conjunction with local government education officials undertook a continuous process aligned with the UWEZO framework and the Kaduna State syllabus for grades 1-3. Complementing collaboration with local education officials, MV Pampaida worked with their internal Monitoring & Evaluation unit to discuss the assessment tools, the format of trainings, and linkage with the monthly MV outcome monitoring tool. After the assessments were approved, training on how to conduct the learning assessments was provided in July to Community Education Workers, who regularly provide support and outreach to students and their families as well as collect monthly education data.
Assessments commenced immediately after the training in July. The MV Pampaida team and the Ikara LGEA working committee on learning assessments developed supplementary materials contextualized for the Ikara Local Government Area. The entire process including the framework development procedure, guidelines for tool development, conducting tests and scoring, data collection protocol, and testing instruments was enveloped into an overarching comprehensive framework guide. Copies of the approved learning assessment framework guide were shared with the Ikara LGEA and Saulawa District Education Office for reference and record purposes. The assessment design and implementation process was also integrated into an overall MVP field guide on learning assessments consulted by other MV education teams.
Results from the first two learning assessments conducted in July and October were shared with all the relevant stakeholder groups and individuals such as pupils, parents, teachers, and the Head of School Services in Ikara LGEA. The results were also discussed in the monthly meetings of the MV education team and the MVP Cluster Education Committee. The Cluster Education Committee is comprised of religious and community leaders, all the chairpersons of the PTA/SBMCs, headmasters, and the Saulawa District Education Officer. In the October assessment that was conducted on primary 3 pupils, it was discovered that many pupils in some schools scored low in English and Math. The Cluster Education Committee held a meeting a week after the assessment to identify the main factors responsible for the pupils’ unsatisfactory performance. Most of the affected schools did not have Math and/or English teachers and it was the season for increased farming activities. Therefore, at the time of the assessment most of the pupils were not regularly attending school. The Committee acted to address these two issues. With support from the MV education team, the Committee contacted the Ikara LGEA for additional English and Math teachers in the affected schools, which resulted in two additional teachers posted to two schools in order to fill the identified gap. Regarding the issue of irregular school attendance, the Committee resolved to conduct house-to-house visits in the affected communities, which improved school attendance within a short time. These learning assessment results were discussed with the teachers in order for them to offer extra support to pupils identified with numeracy and literacy difficulties. Learning assessments will continue beyond 2014 at MV Pampaida to positively affect learning outcomes and identify problematic issues in the schools.
 Parent Teacher Associations and School-Based Management Committees