Peru has made great strides in education coverage. Quality, as measured by actual cogni- tive achievement of children, and particularly the distribution of quality among social groups, remains the problem to which a solution has been elusive. In order to move for- ward on quality and its distribution, the following steps are needed.
First, Peru needs to establish much clearer, more specific learning standards.15 Specificity needs to refer to both grade level and clarity of goals. For example, goals should exist at a
*This chapter is a summary of a longer background technical report entitled, Recurso Perú. Education Sector: Standards, Accountability, and Support. The report can be obtained at http://www.worldbank.org/ or by writing to Daniel Cotlear, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. Since the word “standards” is used throughout this document, it is important to offer some defini- tions. First, in the context of learning, by “standards” we mean both a system of measurement or “metrics,” such as a way of measuring a student’s performance (for example, words read correctly per minute), and specific numerical goals to be achieved (for example, being able to read 70 words per minute by the end of grade 2) or non-numerical skills to be learned (for example, learning letter-sound recognition). Other such metrics and goals exist, of course. Second, in the context of management and funding processes, we refer to standardized ways of proceeding, such as funding via formulas, and specific goals such as saying that each school should receive so many soles per child for purchasing learning materials. Having standardized ways for schools to report on budget use to parents is another example of a process standard. Third, in the con- text of bilingual education, we refer to standardization of languages of instruction in order to discuss the lim- its to such standardization. It would be possible to state, each time the word or concept is used, the exact meaning used. However, given the pervasiveness of the use of the concept, it would also be tedious. The expectation is that the context will make it clear enough. In any case, what the appropriate notion of stan- dard might be is, in any case, open to discussion and interpretation. For example, while we believe we should recommend that children be able to correctly read 70 words per minute by the end of grade 2 (a standard as an actual goal), the policy dialog process in Peru might determine that for now it is wisest simply to get teach- ers to track students on this measurement and try to improve it (a standard as a metric).