PILNA, being the region’s largest assessment, focusses on the literacy and numeracy proficiency skills of Year 4 and Year 6 students. These are required skills that children need to progress through school and life, including literacy skills in reading and writing and numeracy skills in numbers, operations, measurements and data. The assessment provides a measurement of regional standards based on a common scale. This gives the Pacific valid and reliable results to inform on the improvement of student learning outcomes over time.
Read John’s account of how PILNA was administered in 2021 and the challenges his team overcame to complete the assessment in Solomon Islands.
1. Please describe your experience in facilitating the assessment in your country with the added challenge of COVID restrictions?
It was a very challenging year in terms of finance, communication from education authorities and schools, especially with regards to providing the relevant enrolment details to the examination unit. The scatteredness of our islands really creates a very big challenge in terms of transportation and communication, hence, this really contributed to the very slow submission of information to the examination unit and EQAP. Financial constraints faced by the government really contributed to the unavailability of funds in good time for the implementation of the activities as planned.
2. What were some of the challenges you have encountered during the administration/implementation of PILNA in your country?
Some of the challenges encountered during the administration/implementation of PILNA included the slowness in the submission of enrolment data, slowness in the release of funds for the trainings and lack of training of Provincial school coordinators and test supervisors.
3. How did you overcome these challenges?
We were able to overcome the challenge of slow retrieval of information that was faced during the administration period through continuous follow up with Education Authorities. We had also sent training materials (printed & soft copies of power point presentations) to schools to help keep the Provincial school coordinators and test supervisors informed.
4. How does your country benefit from PILNA?
- Driving improvements
Schools can gain detailed information about how they are performing, and they can identify strengths and weaknesses which may warrant further attention. At the system level, PILNA provides education ministers with information about the success of their policies and resourcing in priority curriculum areas. The assessment also provides ministers with the capacity to monitor the success of policies aimed at improving the achievement of different student groups, such as students from the most remote areas.
PILNA acts as a measure through which the Education Authorities, schools and the community can determine whether or not young Solomon Islands are meeting important education outcomes. Teachers can use the data as a diagnostic tool to improve teaching in the classroom. PILNA data can be used to identify students who are underperforming and in need of extra help at school, to ensure they do not fall behind in literacy and numeracy.
PILNA performs an accountability function. Solomon Islanders can expect education resources to be allocated in ways that ensure that all students achieve worthwhile learning during their time at school. Reported outcomes of the PILNA can enable the public to develop a general national perspective on student achievement and, more specifically an understanding of how their schools are performing. Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) can better understand student performance, to inform system-wide policies, support and resource allocation for schools
5. Any other comments?
Regardless of the challenges caused by COVID-19, it is a pleasure working with the EQAP team in the administration of PILNA during these unprecedented times. Hence, I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to the EQAP team for entrusting me to take on the responsibility as a National Coordinator for Solomon Islands. Congratulations! We have successfully implemented the PILNA assessment.