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Literacy and Numeracy Competencies

Indicator Phrasing

% of children who meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, and/or demonstrate adequate progress in academic skills
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of children who meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, and/or demonstrate adequate progress in academic skills

French: % d’élèves qui satisfont aux niveaux minimaux de compétence en lecture et en mathématiques et / ou démontrent des progrès adéquats dans les compétences académiques

Spanish: % of children who meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, and/or demonstrate adequate progress in academic skills

Portuguese: % de alunos/as que atingem níveis mínimos de proficiência em leitura e matemática, e/ou demonstram um progresso adequado ao nível das competências académicas

Czech: % dětí, které dosahují minimální úrovně znalostí ve čtení a matematice a/nebo vykazují přiměřený pokrok v akademických dovednostech

What is its purpose?

This indicator measures the proportion of school-aged children who have mastered basic proficiency levels in literacy and/or numeracy or other academic skills required of their age, grade or learning level. It also serves as an indicator of the education system's effectiveness. This indicator can also be used or adapted to measure competencies based on pass-rates of national or local level exams or tests as a measure of the ultimate effect of an education intervention.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Literacy and numeracy assessment tools:

1) There are several tools that can be used to collect data for this indicator. These include the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and/or other literacy/numeracy tools for higher grades. The guidance below provides information on how to collect data using the ASER tool (a simple, quick, easy to use, cost effective and internationally recognized tool to measure basic reading and numeracy skills of children between 5 and 16 years old).

2) Sample size and selection: To obtain representative data for the target school or learning space, select a representative sample of children to take part in the assessment.

3) The tool is administered, by a trained enumerator (or teacher), to each child individually. It takes about 10 minutes to complete (5 minutes for literacy and 5 minutes for numeracy) per child. The details of the procedure and the forms can be found in this ASER Brief. The enumerators can either record the results on paper forms or electronically in tablets.

4) To report on % of children who meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, take the number of children who achieved a level 4 on the ASER test in literacy and mathematics and divide it by the total number of children sampled and then multiply it by 100 to get the percentage.  

5) This is a composite indicator. As well as recording the overall percentage of children who achieve ASER Level 4 (a Grade 2 level competency) in both reading and maths assessments, scores for literacy and numeracy should also be analysed separately. The indicator can therefore be divided into two separate components:

    a) % of children who have basic literacy skills

    b) % of children who have basic numeracy skills



Measuring academic skills:

In addition to measuring foundational skills, like literacy and numeracy, proficiency in other subjects for specific types of learning programmes (formal education (FE), catch-up or remedial classes, measuring outcomes/progress, etc.) should be based on standardized tools in the context or developed based on the curriculum together with relevant education actors such as teachers, Ministry or Department of Education, teachers unions/groups, Education Cluster/Working Group, etc.). One way of measuring these skills is through national exam results.


National Exam Results:

1) This indicator can also be measured using the pass-rates of national exams. In most countries a standardized national examination system is in place. At the end of each grade or education cycle,  (i.e. end of primary, middle or secondary school), children sit a national exam.  This indicator is measured for the relevant grade(s) and is based on secondary data analysis.

2) At the start of the project, find out which institution is responsible for the exam test evaluations (e.g. local/district level education department, Ministry of Education, schools or learning spaces, external bodies, etc.). Enquire about the locally acceptable performance standards for the tests to decide on the desired score (this may be, for example, a percentage rate or grade, such as A, B, C). If such a standard is not available, then base the benchmark on the past year's test scores (unless recommended otherwise).

3) Baseline Data: Try to obtain the previous year’s exam results, ideally disaggregated by class, gender and subject in target schools or learning spaces, directly from the "test evaluating body". Calculate the number of children who performed at or above the given score then divide that number by the total number of children who took the exam. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage and to get the pass rate.

4) Endline Data: At the end of the school year/NFE cycle/project period (and, if possible, also every year for the midterm), follow exactly the same procedure. Get the disaggregated child exam results (of the selected grade or level). Calculate the number and proportion of children who performed at or above the given score using the calculation guidance above in Point 3 on baseline data.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregation of the data can be done by age group, gender, level of education, type of learning space, ethnicity, mother tongue, wealth quintile, disability, displacement status and/or other specific vulnerable groups, as relevant. Data can also be disaggregated by NFE pathway and/or academic skill (literacy, numeracy and/or other academic subjects) as mentioned above.

Disaggregation of data by disability type should use the Washington Group Short Set on Functioning (or for actions with specialised responses to disabilities use the complete WG/UNICEF Child Functioning Module) or equivalent.

Important Comments

1) This is INEE Indicator 2.2.


2) If collecting baseline and endline data, try to do so consistently at the same time each year or learning cycle – for example, if baseline data is collected in the first week of the school semester in the first year, collect it in the same period the next year; or ensure that baseline data is collected before the start of the school year/non-formal education (NFE) cycle and the endline data is collected in the last week of the school year/semester/NFE cycle. Where the action /activity being measured continues or builds on a previous project or intervention, consider utilising the previous data as a baseline or to measure ongoing change and impact over a longer time period).


3) The ASER tool measures competencies aligned with Grade 2. This means that the assessment should be timed correctly to be at the end of the academic year or in the first weeks of a new academic year, where possible. Changes over time should be measured at the same point each year or at the beginning and end of the project cycle.


4) Although the literacy and numeracy assessment refers to Grade 2 level competencies, it can be conducted with school-aged children of any age/grade or level (whether in school or out of school) in order to ascertain whether, for example, children in higher grades have achieved basic competencies. This gives a good indication of the degree to which children are at the appropriate grade/learning level in literacy and numeracy and whether catch-up or remedial support is required. The tool can also be used as a placement test to determine which level children should be placed in (either within formal schooling or in an NFE learning space) according to their basic competencies – noting that ASER does not measure other academic or subject level parameters, and therefore may need to be combined with other placement tools. For measuring competencies in other academic skills, see guidance above on tool selection/use.


5) The testing tools should be contextualized to each context. The ASER tools should be adjusted to include Grade 2 level literacy and numeracy competencies according to national curricula/textbooks and tested to suit the local language and culture.


6) ASER is fully dependent on enumerators' skills. Plan for half-day practical training for enumerators to ensure data consistency.


7) Getting reliable exam results data from the local institutions can be complicated, time-consuming and in some contexts even sensitive. Make sure to arrange for the data to be available well in advance, ideally in the project formulation stage. If in doubt about the availability or validity of the exam data, plan on using another indicator to measure children’s learning outcomes (e.g. results of another type of individual assessment conducted by the project).


8) Ideally, knowledge and skills should be measured not only to show progress in learning but also relationships between learning and retention in education and/or children’s transition into subsequent levels of NFE, FE or from NFE to FE. Where possible, ASER (or other academic/subject level) competencies with transition and attendance rates to analyse whether and how the attainment of key competencies results in higher levels of retention in education.


9) The same tools should be used to measure baseline, progress and endline to ensure accurate measurement of progress towards proficiency.


10) Note that this indicator is a reduced version of the full INEE indicator (see below).


11) Related indicators:


          - 2.2 % of children who meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, and/or demonstrate adequate progress in academic, vocational, and/or social and emotional learning (SEL) skills


          - KOI: % targeted girls and boys who transition (1) into formal education from non-formal education (NFE), or (2) into the next level of NFE or (3) into the next academic year of formal education (see ‘Transition to Formal/Further Non-formal Education’ indicator)

       Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

          - 4.1.1 Proportion of children and young people: (a) in Grade 2 or 3; (b) at the end of primary education; and (c) at the end of lower secondary education achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex

          - 4.2.1 Proportion of children aged 24-59 months who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex


         - % of boys and girls enrolled in formal education in grade 3 and above scoring at least 45 correct words per minute on the reading passage EGRA subtest


         - % of [specify the target group] with the desired knowledge / skills of [specify the topic] (see Acquired Knowledge / Skills indicator)

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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