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Welcome to the ACTRC Newsletter, Issue 7, March 2017

ACTRC at the CIES Conference

From March 5 to 9 this year, over 2000 teachers, scholars and policymakers met in Atlanta, USA, for the annual conference of the Comparative and International Education Society. Representatives of ACTRC were among the delegates who presented papers at the conference. CIES is the world’s oldest comparative education society, founded in 1956 to foster cross-cultural understanding, academic achievement and societal development through the international study of educational ideas and practices. This year’s conference – Problematizing Inequality: The Promise of International and Comparative Education – was designed to increase understanding of the problem of inequality in education and explore the challenges it presents. The theme was examined across a wide range of topics including teaching and learning, data and evidence, development and innovation, inclusion/exclusion, and the ‘North/South’ distinction between developed and developing countries.
The ACTRC team was involved in two presentations. The first – Visualizing the Breadth of Skills Movement Across Education Systems – reported on the global recognition that a broad range of skills beyond literacy and numeracy is needed by students facing the complex challenges of the 21st Century. Helyn Kim, Senior Research Associate at the Brookings Institution's Center for Universal Education, presented research on this topic conducted with Brookings colleague and ACTRC Co-Director, Esther Care. The research mapped the progress made in the recognition and adoption of this broad range of skills in education systems around the world. To date, the work has identified 102 countries that are in the process of incorporating these skills into their education policies and curricula. Moving from a global to a regional perspective, Esther Care then presented on ACTRC’s involvement in UNESCO Bangkok’s study of the Assessment of Transversal Competencies in the Asia-Pacific region, which featured in our October and November-December newsletters. The focus of the presentation then moved from a regional to a local level. Claire Scoular, Research Fellow at the Assessment Research Centre, presented ACTRC's work on the assessment of 21st Century skills in the Philippines, describing the development of test items and assessment procedures for measuring these broad skills when they are embedded in subject content, as featured in our October newsletter.
The second presentation – A Partnership Model in Action: Research-Informed Action and Review – focused on ACTRC itself, describing the role of collaborative partnerships in the formation and work of the Centre. Bruce Beswick, Publications Officer at the Assessment Research Centre, presented on the partnership model used in the establishment of ACTRC, discussing the history of research partnerships between developed and developing countries and illustrating the work of ACTRC in helping to build capacity in the field of education research in the Philippines. Claire Scoular then presented on the role of ACTRC's partnerships with DepEd's Bureau of Education Assessment and Bureau of Curriculum Development in their joint research on the assessment of 21st Century skills, describing the close collaborations that have made possible this innovative work. Nazrul Islam, BRAC’s Country Representative in the Philippines, then presented on BRAC’s partnership with the Australian Government and other contributors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, describing their joint work in providing Alternative Delivery Mode education and its impact on the learning achievement of students in that region, as featured in our September newsletter. Therese Bustos, ACTRC Co-Director, and Xerxes De Castro, ACTRC Research Officer, then presented on ACTRC’s partnerships with the World Bank and DepEd in its role as the disbursement-linked verification agent for the Learning, Equity and Accountability Program Support project. They described the independence, agility and communication skills required by ACTRC’s role as a verification agent. The session was concluded by Esther Care, who gave an overview of the range of partnerships in which the Centre is involved and facilitated discussion prompted by questions from the floor.
The CIES Conference provided a welcome opportunity to share the work of ACTRC with an international audience and engage in global conversations on current issues and future directions in comparative and international education. We look forward to continuing these conversations with all our partners and sharing the learning opportunities that they provide.
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