What have we learned about improving learning at the system level? [CIES 2023 Presentation]

This presentation, given at the CIES 2023 Annual Conference, highlights the global shift in measurement and improvement in learning outcomes since the adoption of SDG 4.1.1, under which countries are asked to report on the “the proportion of children and young people…achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics”. Building on these results, the World Bank and UIS estimate that eighty percent of children in poor countries cannot read a simple sentence by the end of primary school. In reviewing the results of multiple regional and systems-level learning improvement programs to better understand the distribution of learning outcomes and system-level impact we find that: 1) while some progress has been made, the massive changes required to move the needle on the share of children reaching minimum proficiency remains elusive and 2) a small share of schools account for the majority of the gains. Finally, the panelist will create a link between this challenge and the theme of the panel; that education change will only be successful if work is undertaken to better understand and diminish the restraining forces of mindsets and education system social norms.