What if the data exposes weaknesses in an education system and opens it up to criticism?

SDG 4 is explicit in its goal to improve learning outcomes for all. The goal recognizes that many students are unable to access a quality education.

The data submitted for indicator 4.1.1 will allow MOE decision-makers, donors and other stakeholders to determine where to direct resources to support improved learning outcomes so that a greater percentage of students benefit from quality learning environments.

While there may be risks in revealing if a country’s learning performance does not align with expressed aspirations, the benefits of reporting accurate, complete data far outweigh the risks. These benefits include obtaining an accurate picture of the mathematics and reading performance of students compared to their peers in neighboring countries or even globally, and alerting the international community to the need to direct additional resources to the country or region. Transparency can engender positive change.

Finally, over time, reporting quality country-level reading and mathematics learning outcomes that are comparable can help decision makers identify learning trends. If the initial results are lower than expected or desired, the data can justify the need for systemic or policy changes and for additional resources to implement these changes. If future assessments reveal improvements in learning outcomes, the results can serve as a public acknowledgement of the progress made.