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Indicator Name, Target and Goal

Indicator 4.1.1: Proportion of children and young people (a) in Grades 2 /3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex

Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Definition and Rationale

Definition:

This indicator is defined as the percentage of children and young people who have achieved a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics during primary (Grade 2 or 3) and at the end of primary and lower secondary education. 

Concepts:

Minimum proficiency level corresponds to the minimum set of skills or knowledge required for a given subject such as reading or mathematics.  Learning assessments are designed to measure a range of skill levels which are defined during the design of the assessment. As the assessment design can vary between national assessments and across international assessments ideally these benchmarks should to be aligned. Minimum proficiency levels for existing cross-national learning assessments have been provisionally adopted by the international community for interim reporting but in order to increase country coverage there is a need to achieve comparability across national and international assessments. 

Rationale and Interpretation:

The indicator is a direct measure of the minimum learning outcomes achieved in reading and mathematics during or at the end of the relevant stages of education. 

To create internationally comparable data, an international benchmark for minimum proficiency will need to be developed and adopted to address the variation in performance levels across national and cross-national assessments. This benchmark will divide learners into those who did not achieve the minimum proficiency and those who did. A value at or above the defined minimum proficiency score indicates that learners have achieved minimum proficiency levels in the required subject area.

Data Sources and Collection Method

Regional and international large-scale school-based learning assessments such as the Programme d'analyse des systèmes éducatifs de la CONFEMEN (PASEC), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), the Tercer Estudio Regional Comparativo y Explicativo (TERCE) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), are good sources of data for this indicator. National learning assessments are another potential source. 

In order to extend coverage to include out-of-school children and youth, the UIS is developing a strategy to work with household surveys, including citizen-led assessments. This will require the mapping of the content being assessed to a common framework and ensuring minimum technical standards are observed such surveys.

Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations

Computation Method:

Divide the total number of children and young people in a given stage of education n who have achieved the minimum proficiency level in a given subject s (mathematics or reading) by the total population in the given stage of education or relevant age group and multiply by 100. 

The formula is: 

where,

MPt,n,s  is the number of  children and young people in the stage of education n, who have achieved or exceeded  the minimum proficiency level in subject s in school year t;

Pt,nis the total population in the stage of education n in school year t;

n denotes the grade or education level that was assessed; and

s denotes the subject (mathematics or reading). 

Comments and limitations:

Countries set their own standards so performance levels may not always be directly comparable. Furthermore, assessments most are typically administered within school systems. The current indicators cover only those individuals that are in school. The relative size of in-school target populations vary from country to country due to differences in the out-of-school populations. 

Assessing competencies of children and young people who are out-of-school would require household-based surveys, which may be very costly and difficult to administer. Such surveys are unlikely to be available on the scale needed within the next 3-5 years. Due to this, the initial focus is on assessing children that are in-school. The development of more coherent implementation plans to assess out-of-school children will require more time. 

There is only one threshold that divides children and young people in different stages of education into below minimum or at or above minimum proficiency levels:

(1) Below minimum level is the proportion of children and young people who do not achieve the minimum standard as established by countries; and

(2) At or above minimum level is the proportion of children and young people who have achieved at least the minimum standard. 

Due to the variation in performance level thresholds across countries, the national performance levels will have to be mapped to a globally defined minimum proficiency level. This mapping will allow for meaningful comparisons of performance across countries. 

Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A

Data Disaggregation

This indicator is required to be disaggregated by sex and level or stage of education. It can be also disaggregated by age or age group, location, socio-economic status, migrant status, ethnicity and disability status. 

References

Official SDG Metadata URL
https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/files/Metadata-04-01-01.pdf  

Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL
http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/unesco-infopaper-sdg_data_gaps-01.pdf 

Other references
PASEC. Programme d’analyse des systemes educatifs de la confemen. Internet site: http://www.pasec.confemen.org/

IEA. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Internet site: http://www.iea.nl/pirls

OECD. Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Internet site: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/

The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ). Internet site: http://www.sacmeq.org/?q=sacmeq-projects/sacmeq-iv

UNESCO. Tercer Estudio Regional Comparativo y Explicativo (TERCE). Internet site: http://www.unesco.org/new/es/santiago/education/education-assessment-llece/terce/

IEA. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Internet site: http://www.iea.nl/timss_2015.html 

Country examples
To view the latest available data: http://data.uis.unesco.org

International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring

This document was prepared based on inputs from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (UIS).

For focal point information for this indicator, please visit https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/dataContacts/

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