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Going beyond basic indicators: A new tool to measure education service delivery

Angela Demas's picture
 Bart Verweij / World Bank
A new tool is aiming to provide comprehensive data to better understand the complexities of an education system. (Photo: Bart Verweij / World Bank)

When it comes to evaluating education systems, we have available basic high-level indicators such as a country’s GDP allocated to education, national learning levels, enrollment and completion rates, and data on teachers. But “What is going wrong?” and “Where is it going wrong?” are more difficult questions to answer.

Thipphavan is a 9-year-old girl living in the Tavang village of Sekong Province in Laos. Her multi-grade primary school is located in a “disadvantaged district,” as defined by its socio-economic status and rural location.

These are the types of schools being targeted for a variety of education training and services to improve school-based management and the teaching and learning of reading under an existing World Bank supported project (Second Global Partnership for Education Project). To better understand how well education services (such as the quality of teaching, level of resources, and infrastructure conditions) are being delivered to students all over the country — whether it is a rural public school like Thipphavan’s or an urban single grade school in the capital — Laos is applying a new survey tool, SABER Service Delivery (SABER SD), to capture this information.

The aim of the SABER Service Delivery tool is to provide comprehensive data to understand what happens at the school level. Often, data makes its way from the school level up through the channels of the education system, but it does not get analyzed and fed back to the district or school level in order to make improvements.

The simple review of data on inputs, outcomes, and policy environment are often not enough to understand the complexities of an education system, and, the bottlenecks along the way that prevent student learning. Keeping this in mind, the process of developing the SABER Service Delivery tool began in June 2016.
 
SABER SD: A new initiative for education
SABER Service Delivery is a new initiative that combines two World Bank initiatives: the SABER (Systems Approach for Better Education Results) policy and implementation tools and the SDI (Service Delivery Indicators) survey based in Africa. SABER SD builds on the SABER evidence base and captures policy implementation measures from its core domains including: School Autonomy and Accountability, Teachers, Finance, Education Management Information Systems, and Education Resilience. The new instrument collects data at the school level, but asks questions related to the roles of all levels of government (including local and regional) in the school. The tool will provide comprehensive data on: teacher effort and ability; principal leadership; school governance, management, and finances; community participation; a classroom observation; and student performance in math and language.
 
Piloting the tool
SABER SD is currently being piloted in two countries: Laos and Afghanistan. To date, data collection has been complete in Laos and fieldwork in Afghanistan is currently underway.

In Laos, working with the government and local partners and educators, the team has collected data from a random sample of 200 schools.  The data collection comes at a critical time to support monitoring of the Laos Education and Sports Sector Development Plan 2016-2020 and in support of the current Second Global Partnership for Education.

The data collection process in Laos allowed us to explore and set firm protocols for data collection. Interested in streamlining the data collection process and reducing errors, SABER SD was piloted using tablets, with the capability for mobile internet connection, in Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) form. Enumerators captured data directly into the tablets and had the capability of instantaneously sending it back to the central server the same night for review. The results of the Laos application are expected to be published later this year.
 
What’s Next for SABER SD?
The survey is still being piloted and improvements will be made to the tool. It is expected that the complete toolkit will be available on our website by the end of the calendar year. Data analysis generated from the survey data will help countries better identify gaps in policy implementation and pinpoint bottlenecks or breakdowns in the quality of education service delivery. This information will help countries and partners to channel resources and support to critical areas resulting in a better education for students like Thipphavan.

Follow the World Bank Group Education team on Twitter @wbg_education.

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