International Research of Student Achievements Project (IRSA)

IRSA Objectives

International Research of Student Achievements Project is aimed at accelerating of the achievement of the SDG 4th (targets 4.1 and 4.C) and SDG 17th (targets 17.9.1. and 17.6.1) through:

  • promoting use of innovative methodologies for education quality assessment;
  • educators’ capacity building;
  • gaining research data for policymaking;
  • accelerating regional cooperation.


The idea of the project derived from activities in education assessment and capacity building under the READ Program. CICED serves as a supervising entity and implementing agency.

The core of the IRSA Project is a longitude research supported by training, knowledge exchange, contributions to public good and wide results dissemination. The current participants are Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia.

National testing centers and institutes of education are supposed to act as focal points for project teams. These focal points, being national assessment bodies, ensure the linkage between project outcomes and policy makers and come with country-specific products (e.g. seminars or reports available in national language) for the purpose of informing policy makers on recommendations produced within the project. Involving national assessment bodies is expected to deliver recommendations for teachers training institutes as the institutional connections between those kinds of institutions is traditionally high in CIS/post-Soviet countries. During the project partner coordination is maintained via country teams that serve as main implementers of in-country activities. Every country team is responsible for identifying any additional stakeholders that would emerge during the project implementation and ensure proper alignment of the project with any other related activities that take place in the country.

Participating countries’ representatives reporting at READ conference


In order to increase awareness representatives of donor community, international and local education NGOs, think-tanks, consultancies and scholars get invited for large regional meetings dedicated to IRSA results. The IRSA design and intermediate outcomes were already presented at a few international events, such as CIES and BCES annual conferences, to global expert groups such as Building Evidence in Education and at World Bank seminars.

IRSA Implementation

IRSA’s key project activities encompass three domains:

  1. training and “learning by doing”;
  2. research conducting;
  3. results dissemination.

Training and “learning by doing” activities aim at developing educators’ capacity in participating countries including young specialists and specialists without previous work experience. The basic approach to this task is mentioned “learning by doing” when country teams take part in localization of an assessment and studying tools methodologies, data analysis (excluding secondary statistical analysis) and project results dissemination. Other types of capacity building, such as trainings and study-tours on modern trends in assessment, application and data use for policymaking and test development, are provided for the country teams. Consultations and assistance from an international team of experts is available throughout the project. Specialists from country teams are also encouraged to publish papers on the research results and present them at different international events.

Study-tour to UNESCO IIEP


The core activity for the IRSA Project is a longitudinal cross-country research. Country teams participate in the field work collecting data through testing students and surveying students and teachers. It is crucial to introduce new effective instruments to measure learning outcomes for low-income countries to keep them on track with SDG agenda. Since some countries do not have assessment methodologies, practical knowledge in conjunction with provided innovative instruments allow to perform an effective assessment of the quality of education in these countries. Regular assessment, rather than single-slice sampling, makes it possible to track trends in the level of achievements and quality of education over time. Monitoring student progress also gives teachers the opportunity to reflect on their own teaching and assess the impact of the instructional strategies they use.

Results dissemination strategy includes joint seminars (in each of the participating countries with participation of the governmental representatives to insure encoring research results in educational policy) and workshops, cost-effective online information sharing via websites and webinars, and support for the publication of the findings by national teams. International meetings are organized annually to share the project implementation and intermediate outcomes. Annual meetings are also intended for better project coordination. Regular reviews of the project from international experts is also an important type of feedback. In order to summarize the results every participating country provides annual report reflecting intermediate outcomes and achieved progress on the project.