Using the FLN Global Proficiency Frameworks to Inform the Design of Education Products and Solutions

The Global Proficiency Frameworks (GPF) describe the global minimum proficiency levels expected of students at grades one to nine in reading and mathematics. The four levels in the GPF—Below Partially Meets, Partially Meets, Meets, and Exceeds Global Minimum Proficiency—form a common scale from low to high achievement.

These levels were identified, labeled, and defined in general terms by a group of 80 international stakeholders from education ministries, donor agencies, implementing partners, universities, assessment organizations, and research centers at a workshop in 2018. The specific content for the levels was adapted from the International Bureau of Education (IBE-UNESCO) Global Content Framework by a group of 40 international reading and mathematics experts at workshops in 2019 and 2020. These frameworks formed the starting point for an important panel discussion at the 2021 mEducation Alliance Symposium, whose theme was “Using EdTech for Accelerating Foundational Literacy and Numeracy”.

This panel discussion kicked off with a presentation by USAID detailing the structure of the Global Proficiency Frameworks. The discussion was led by Dr. Saima S. Malik and Ms. Rebecca Rhodes from USAID. Dr. Malik and Ms. Rhodes highlighted many of the benefits of the adoption of the GPFs. In particular they discussed the value of the GPFs for supporting countries to make explicit prioritization decisions- focusing scarce resources on achieving measurable progress to advance foundational literacy and numeracy skills, and reduce learning poverty.

They explained the structure of the GPFs- which detail the concepts and skills that students should be able to developmentally achieve on a global basis given proper materials and instruction in the schools and classroom. They further noted the value of the GPFs as a global reference point for revising standards, curricula, and instructional materials. Finally, they introduced a promising approach to aligning local standards and curricula to the GPFs called policy-linking which has been successfully piloted in several low-to middle income countries over the past two years.

Following these introductory remarks, mEducation Alliance invited non-profit and for-profit education partners to discuss the implications of integrating the GPFs into the design of their solutions for accelerated learning, including solutions ranging from virtual tutoring to escape games. Whizz Education was invited to discuss our work partnering with ministries of education to drive accelerated learning growth. Whizz Education’s experience affirms the importance of employing globally-normed metrics to support meaningful comparisons across schools, regions, and countries to support continuous improvement and course correction efforts. Paul Miller, Whizz Education’s US Country Manager, additionally highlighted the importance of incorporating local context and insights to optimize implementation of solutions that deliver measurable improvement in learning outcomes.

mEducation Alliance’s symposium provided a unique opportunity to convene public, private, and non-profit actors to discuss making foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) a priority, with all stakeholders recognizing that practically all SDG 4 goals depend on the successful achievement of FLN across the globe.