Module 6

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Rigor Icon


Rigor, in the context of practical measurement, deals with not only the level to which a measure, survey, assessment, or tool provides information that is both valid and reliable but also whether the thresholds of rigorous measurement and research are actually viable for practitioners and researchers working in low-resource, crisis-affected, and fragile contexts. In this module, we discuss not only the different types of validity and reliability tests/statistics, but also which ones we recommend using when measuring outcomes for tracking, screening, situation analyses, monitoring, or evaluation.

Additional Resources

Child development assessment tools in low-income and middle-income countries: How can we use them more appropriately?

Saraswathy Sabanathan, Bridget Wills, and Melissa Gladstone

“Global emphasis has shifted beyond reducing child survival rates to improving health and developmental trajectories in childhood. Optimum early childhood experience is believed to allow children to benefit fully from educational opportunities resulting in improved human capital. Investment in early childhood initiatives in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) is increasing. These initiatives use early childhood developmental assessment tools (CDATs) as outcome measures. CDATs are also key measures in the evaluation of programmatic health initiatives in LMICs, influencing public health policy. Interpretation of CDAT outcomes requires understanding of their structure and psychometric properties. This article reviews the structure and main methods of CDAT development with specific considerations when applied in LMICs.”

Chapter 6: Adaptation and Standardization of Existing Tools in a Toolkit for Measuring Early Childhood Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Lia C. H. Fernald, Elizabeth Prado, Patricia Kariger, and Abbie Raikes

“The primary purpose of this Toolkit is to provide a resource for researchers, evaluators, and program personnel from various disciplines interested in assessing early childhood development (ECD) in low- and middle-income countries—either for planning and evaluating interventions, monitoring development over time, or conducting a situation analysis. The Toolkit is intended to help produce reliable, actionable data on child development.”

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What is practical measurement?

Practical measurement is measurement of children and adolescents’ learning and development that is driven by and focused on the needs of practitioners working with limited time and resources in low-resource, conflict-affected, and fragile contexts. Practical measurement is not a specific tool but rather a conceptual framework that can be used to develop a simple, yet rigorous plan to measure holistic learning and development outcomes related to physical health, mental health, psychosocial wellbeing, academic learning (e.g., literacy, numeracy), social and emotional learning, or values, morals, and spirituality.


Why this course?

When searching for online resources on measuring children and adolescents’ learning and development, there are two common forms of resources: those aimed at monitoring outputs of programs (e.g., number of training sessions implemented or number of beneficiaries engaged) and those aimed at rigorous program or impact evaluations such as randomized controlled trials. However, while these resources are valuable, they do not address many practitioners’ immediate purpose to go beyond monitoring outputs and to measure actual changes in children and adolescents. Recognizing the need for something that is driven by and focused on the needs of practitioners working with limited time and resources in low-resource and fragile contexts, the Practical Measurement course focuses on equipping practitioners with the knowledge and resources to develop rigorous yet feasible measurement initiatives. 


Who is this course designed for?

Maybe you are an education technical expert with years of experience working in low-resource or fragile settings on programs for children. Or perhaps you are a monitoring and evaluation officer in the early stages of your career. Wherever you find yourself in your career, the Practical Measurement course is designed to support practitioners like you in understanding how to develop an effective approach to measuring holistic learning and development outcomes, especially when faced with limited time and resources. For this reason, you will find limited research and statistical jargon throughout the course. Instead, you will find clear and concise descriptions, tips, tools, and resources to support you on your journey of measuring the learning and development outcomes of children or adolescents.


What will I learn?

This course is focused on four key parameters that are important to consider when attempting to measure how children learn and develop through programs in low-resource and fragile contexts: appropriateness, utility, feasibility, and rigor. The materials in this course are not comprehensive nor are they meant to prepare you to take on a large research initiative. Instead, you can anticipate gaining a deeper understanding of the why and how behind measuring children and adolescents’ holistic learning and development outcomes. You can also expect to leave this course with a foundational understanding of how to start down the road of choosing a measure, adapting it, administering it with children, and ensuring that the data is useful. Throughout the course, you will find a curated list of resources to help develop a strategy to measure learning and development whether you are interested in tracking (formative assessments), screening, situation analyses, monitoring, or evaluations.

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