Leading PILNA Scores and Literacy Achievements
The 2023 PacREF MEL Reflection Blended Workshop organised by the Pacific Community’s Education Quality Assessment Programme brought together education leaders from across the region last week to discuss progress and success stories in education under the PacREF programme.
One of the highlights was Palau’s presentation on its achievements in the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA). PILNA is Pacific’s largest regional assessment of literacy and numeracy.
The assessment focuses on the numeracy and literacy proficiency skills of Year 4 and Year 6 students.
Mr Raynold Mechol, Palau’s Director of the Bureau of Education Administration, shared the country’s experiences and results, showcasing its consistent high performance in PILNA and the strategies contributing to its success.
Palau, an island nation in the Northern Pacific, has been consistently raising its performance in PILNA since 2012. During the workshop, Mr. Mechol shared several key outcomes and contributing factors that have led to Palau’s success.
Among the outcomes presented by Mr Mechol were the consistency of Palau students meeting the expected literacy and numeracy standards for grades 4 and 6. Palau’s PILNA results have consistently maintained a high level in all four cycles since 2012, with higher scores in literacy compared to numeracy. Mr Mechol also shared that reading scores have been consistently higher than writing scores, as Palau’s education system has focused more on early grades literacy reading programmes.
However, Mr Mechol also pointed out an unintended negative outcome: the increased focus on the English language at the expense of the Palauan language in early grades.
The significant changes in Palau’s education system have led to a shift towards personalized learning, where teachers pay more attention to individual student progress. Differentiated instruction, online reading programs, a longer instructional day, and the establishment of early childhood education (ECE) in all public schools have been critical in enhancing educational outcomes.
Mr Mechol also mentioned ongoing research projects to understand the disparity in academic performance between female and male students and efforts to accredit all public schools through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
He continued that PacREF, with support from the Educational Quality and Assessment Program (EQAP), has played a pivotal role in Palau’s achieving several outcomes in its Ministry’s education sector plan.
“PacREF supported by conducting regional workshops, providing expert advice, promoting best practices in test development and administration, and aiding in data interpretation. These efforts have been instrumental in identifying potential intervention strategies,” Mr Mechol said.
Palau’s presentation at the PacREF MEL Reflection Blended Workshop serves as an inspiring case study for other nations in the Pacific region, highlighting the positive impact that a strategic focus on literacy and numeracy can have on overall education outcomes.