The Honduran education system, although free and compulsory for nine years, faces several uphill challenges. Enrollment and completion rates are strikingly low, due in part to the lack of education infrastructure and costs to families. What is more, teacher qualifications and quality of teaching are in need of improvement. All of these challenges lead to low educational outcomes for Honduran children. The Honduran government has identified education as a fundamental goal for the country’s development. Major reforms in recent years have helped boost education access and quality in Honduras, but there remains much work to do.
AIR, through the Mejorando el Impacto al Desempeño Estudiantil de Honduras (MIDEH) Project, supports the government of Honduras to improve education quality by building and sustaining national standards-based educational reform. Through a collaborative effort between USAID and the Secretariat of Education (SE) in Honduras, the project has established an education assessment system and a “culture of evaluation.”
The MIDEH Project has accomplished several important steps toward improving the quality of education in Honduras:
- Led the development and implementation of high quality standards for Spanish language and Mathematics in grades K-11, aligned to the new national curriculum.
- Encouraged the use of standards in the classroom by developing pacing guides for teachers, which map out sequenced standards by grade level and month.
- Developed a national testing system, both formative (classroom-oriented) for monitoring interim student achievement, and a summative (end-of-grade) for providing test data to teachers, school directors, district and departmental education personnel, and SE authorities.
- Supported the end-of-grade test in a municipal-representative sample in the year 2015, and a nationally representative sample in 2016.
- Invested close to $1.8 million in grants for projects that support the improvement of student performance.
- Created a Master’s program in Psychometrics and Educational Assessment at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. The Project provides professors to deliver specialized courses for which there are no local experts.
The project builds capacity of SE personnel at all levels (central and decentralized) to adapt an assessment system needed to reliably measure and improve student achievement. This includes analyzing and using assessment data for decision making, socializing the end-of-grade test results with SE personnel as well as civil society, and helping the SE authorities at all levels develop improvement plans based on the assessment results.
The MIDEH Project also works toward maintaining the assessment system through technical capacity and ownership. It does this by establishing an assessment unit that takes responsibility for the national student assessment system, and transferring technical capacity to the staff within the assessment unit. MIDEH expects that the assessment unit will be fully functional with the technical capacity to maintain the assessment system by the end of the project in 2018.