ERIC Number: EJ778894
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Reference Count: 0
Smaller, Quicker, Cheaper: Alternative Strategies for Literacy Assessment in the UN Literacy Decade
Wagner, Daniel A.
International Journal of Educational Research, v39 n3 p293-309 2003
In the context of the UN Literacy Decade (declared in February 2003), the present paper suggests three parameters that should be considered when new tools for assessment are considered in less developed countries (LDCs), each of which poses a special challenge to international comparative literacy assessment, such as in the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS): (1) "Smaller": Assessment methods do not need to be major entrepreneurial enterprises, but rather just robust enough to answer key policy questions at the national and local levels. International comparative studies often run counter to this perspective. (2) "Quicker": Literacy assessments need to be completed in "real time" so that results can affect policy and spending in the "lifetime" of current ministerial appointments. Studies that take 3-5 years to generate results, even if robust, nonetheless fail to meet the test of timeliness. (3) "Cheaper": LDCs cannot afford either the fiscal or human resources costs of deep involvement in highly technical assessment exercises. The higher the cost, the more difficult to get to an initial "yes" to participate in such an exercise, and the more difficult to gather time-series data to follow policy decisions. In sum, this paper finds that there is a very important need for improving literacy assessment methodologies and the empirical database in developing countries, especially in light of the new UN Literacy Decade. While the IALS presents interesting and important options for methodological consideration, it also has a number of inherent limitations as discussed herein. Other options exist which should also be considered, especially for poor countries, such as the smaller/quicker/cheaper (SQC) approach.
Descriptors: Evaluation Methods, Developing Nations, Comparative Analysis, Adult Literacy, Human Resources, Literacy, Surveys, Costs, Educational Policy, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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Sponsor: Office of Vocational and Adult Education (ED), Washington, DC.; Department of Education, Washington, DC.
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