Home-based in Bratislava, Slovakia: National Consultancy to Provide Secondary Analysis of PISA Results in Slovakia (47.5 working days) – UNICEF Slovakia Refugee Response Office (RRO)

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Purpose of Activity/Assignment

The purpose of the consultancy is to support Public Spending Review in Education Sector through secondary analysis of PISA results which will provide policy and budgetary recommendations to address systemic challenges and improve PISA results, while accounting for different situation and background of student population.

Background

The Government of Slovakia invests significant funds in education, 2.7 billion EUR annually for all levels of education up to 18 years of age and is undertaking a series of measures and reforms to introduce universal access to early childhood education, curricula reform and inclusive education.

With the aim to contribute to strengthening of the regional education system, and to advance education quality by addressing efficiency, effectiveness and equity of spending in pre-school, primary and secondary education (regional education), the Ministry of Finance will conduct a Public Spending Review in the Education Sector, implemented in coordination between the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ministry of Education, Research, Development and Youth (MoE), which agreed to collaborate in providing available and detailed data and information required for the analyses. A report will be drafted and shared by the end of October 2024, and a final report is expected to be published by the MoF and submitted to the Government by the end of April 2025. Contributing to overall Public Expenditure Review in the Education Sector, UNICEF will support a Secondary Analysis of PISA Results.

Despite the significant investments, PISA testing demonstrated results for 15-year-old children below the OECD countries’ average, in recent years. General results (all pupils tested) demonstrated that many students in Slovakia leave school without mastering basic competencies. Slovakia’s PISA 2022 results are the lowest ever measured in mathematics, and among the lowest in reading and science, since the beginning of the measurement in 2000. The proportion of low-performing pupils in reading literacy is the highest among the countries compared.

From a socio-economic perspective, results further demonstrated a wide equity gap in the Slovak education system. In fact, instead of contributing to reduce the disparities between children, the education system is widening them: socio-economically advantaged students (the top 25% in terms of socio-economic status) outperformed disadvantaged students (the bottom 25%) by 133 score points in mathematics (20 points is approx. 1 year of schooling). This is significantly larger than the average difference between the two groups (93 score points) across OECD countries. This means that a child born from an underprivileged family in Slovakia is more likely to fail at school or drop out very early. The results also indicate that Slovakia has the potential to make progress to improve educational performance overall, and to close the equity gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children to reach its OECD counterparts.

Addressing these issues requires targeted interventions informed by a comprehensive understanding of the underlying factors contributing to overall decline and disparities in student outcomes. This secondary analysis of PISA 2022 results aims to provide precisely that, focusing on equity and inclusion within the Slovak education system. The analysis will inform evidence-based policy interventions, including related to education sector financing and expenditures, aimed at enhancing educational outcomes and promoting equity for all students in Slovakia.

Objective

The primary objective of this consultancy is to conduct a comprehensive secondary analysis of the PISA 2022 results in Slovakia, with a specific focus on understanding issues related to equity and inclusion, and financial implications of addressing the challenges. This analysis will delve into the factors contributing to disparities in student performance, particularly those based on socio-economic status, gender and geographical location. By identifying root causes and best practices, the analysis aims to inform targeted interventions to improve educational outcomes and narrow down the equity gap in the Slovak education system.

Additionally, the results of this analysis will be relevant for inclusive education policies within Slovakia, particularly in light of the need to accommodate increasing numbers of children from different linguistic, cultural backgrounds, and educational histories.

Utilizing PISA data and other relevant information, the analysis will contribute to public education expenditure review in Slovakia by identifying key factors influencing students’ outcomes and proposing recommendations for systemic solutions, including adjustments to the financing system, to improve future results. The introductory part of the analysis will include an examination of trends in PISA results for Slovakia over time and in comparison to other countries to provide context for understanding performance levels. The secondary analysis will focus on factors behind low/high scores in Slovakia, investigate the specific factors contributing to variations in performance, and compare these with similar countries to identify unique challenges or opportunities.

Primary focus of the secondary analysis will be on:

  • Socioeconomic factors: Assessing the influence of economic, social, and cultural status (ESCS) on PISA scores in Slovakia, exploring potential reasons for any disparities observed. The effects of changes in the socioeconomic composition of the tested student group in Slovakia between 2018 and 2022 on PISA scores will be analysed, with a consideration for potential implications for future assessments with an intake of Ukrainian pupils and an increasing number of children of foreigners in Slovakia.
  • Low-performing student groups: Identifying characteristics and concentrations of low-performing students in Slovakia, and examining underlying factors contributing to their academic challenges.
  • Influence of school factors (such as student-teacher ratio, qualification and supply of pedagogical and professional staff), school context factors (i.e. school type, ESCS composition of students, school size, location, class size) on student performance in PISA assessments, including potential interventions to improve outcomes.
  • Influence of intergovernmental financing formula, budgetary allocations and expenditure patterns and levels on PISA results.
  • The review will include references to international best practices. It will review strategies and education policies implemented by other countries to enhance PISA scores and identify actionable lessons for Slovakia. In the final part, the analysis will assess the alignment of the education financing system with desired educational outcomes, exploring opportunities to incentivize positive school behaviour and ensure adequate resources for all students.

Scope of Work

The consultant (Education Public Expenditure Management Specialist) will be responsible for Secondary Analysis of PISA Report (approximately 30 pages long).

The consultant will undertake the following tasks to fulfil the objectives of the analysis:

  1. Reviewing the PISA 2022 results datasets, methodology, and results documentation to gain a thorough understanding of the data, including data from student, teacher and school questionnaires.
  2. Reviewing the Public Spending Review in Education Sector (including background analysis); and other relevant information/analyses, for data triangulation and to enable linkages with PISA analysis results and recommendations. Reviewing other relevant national education statistics, to assess data availability and identify any gaps.
  3. Applying advanced statistical techniques and qualitative methods to conduct an in-depth analysis of PISA 2022 results for Slovakia, focusing students’ performance across different demographic groups.
  4. Analysing key factors influencing students’ performance, including but not limited to gender, socio-economic status, mother tongue and language of instruction. Exploring the extent and nature of socio-economic disparities in student performance and their impact on overall educational outcomes.
  5. Examining the intersectionality of factors such as gender, ethnicity, language proficiency, with school factors and geographical location in shaping student performance and access to educational opportunities.
  6. Identifying systemic barriers that hinder the academic achievement disadvantaged and social inclusion of marginalized groups, including students from minority backgrounds, rural areas, and those with disabilities.
  7. Analysing the potential impact of the increasing number of children of foreigners, including Ukrainian children in the Slovak education system on its performance.
  8. Analysing the effectiveness of existing policies, programs, and practices in addressing equity and inclusion in the Slovak education system.
  9. Analysing the financial aspects and cost of addressing the needs of various student groups to enhance educational outcomes, including examination of potential impact of various funding models on education outcomes, particularly of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
  10. Identifying successful interventions and best practices from OECD countries with similar socio-economic contexts and diverse student populations.
  11. Developing evidence-based recommendations tailored to the Slovak context to address identified challenges and promote equity and inclusion in education.
  12. Engaging with key stakeholders, including government officials, educators, civil society organizations, and marginalized communities, to validate findings and collect feedback. Incorporating their input to refine the analysis as needed.
  13. Presenting the final findings and recommendations in a clear and accessible manner, including the preparation of a comprehensive report and presentation materials for dissemination and other dissemination activities (e.g. workshop) to facilitate knowledge sharing and promote informed decision-making.

In support of the above tasks, the consultant will be responsible for the following:

  • Liaise with relevant government counterparts.
  • Prepare initial analytical drafts & accommodate feedback from the task team (UNICEF, MoF, MoE) to finalize deliverables.
  • Provide support to the Technical Working Group (UNICEF, MoF, MoE) in data collection and processing by receiving and verifying the validity and consistency of data provided and following up with government officials in case of inconsistencies.
  • Clean, merge, and manage datasets made available.
  • Address any comments that may arise by the MoF, MoE and UNICEF teams, i.e. Steering Committee and Technical Working Group.
  • Participate in relevant meetings, workshops/dissemination events with the Government representatives.
  • Presenting and reporting on findings as required.
  • Conduct relevant statistical analysis and cross-tabulations of data received from government (MoE, MoF) in support of the thematic note deliverable.
  • Maintain organized data files for easy reference.
  • Communicating challenges, bottlenecks, data quality issues, etc.

Methodology

The consultant is expected to base the findings on the:

  • Developed methodological framework (as per deliverables below)
  • Desk review and discussion with key informants, primarily under MoE, MoF and schools
  • Overview/Analysis of policy framework, main priorities and programmes, institutional and financial arrangements for education services
  • Mapping of available information related to guiding questions, and triangulation of information from available sources
  • Qualitative and quantitative statistical analysis of relevant information (descriptive, correlational, regression and factor analysis, as necessary and as per the proposed methodology)
  • Prepare and perform additional data collection (if required)

Work Assignment Overview

The consultant will be guided by UNICEF, MoF, and MoE in terms of context, vision and necessary documentation and access to necessary information for the tasks in question.

Organization of meetings will be supported by MoF and MoE; whereas the consultant is expected to work more independently as the consultancy progresses.

The consultant is expected to produce all deliverables in English.

Tasks / Milestone Deliverables / Outputs Timeline / Deadline
Write inception report outlining the methodology, approach, work plan for conducting the secondary analysis, and outline of the report Inception Report

2 working days;

By 13 May 2024

Conduct analysis of PISA data and results and other relevant information & daft report presenting the findings of the secondary analysis, including detailed data analysis, key findings, and preliminary recommendations for promoting equity and inclusion in the Slovak education system. Draft Report including preliminary findings, analysis and recommendations for feedback will be submitted

30 working days;

By 20 June 2024

Based on analysis results, contribute to considerations and integration of PISA Secondary Analysis fundings in the overall public in the Public Spending Review in Education Contribution to Public Spending Review Report.

2 working days;

By 30 October 2024

Draft Final report incorporating feedback from stakeholders, the financial aspects and cost of addressing the needs of various student groups to enhance educational outcomes, including examination of potential impact of various funding models on education outcomes, particularly of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

The final report will p present evidence-based recommendations for policy and financial interventions.

Final report incorporating feedback and revisions, including a summary of key findings (Executive summary), detailed analysis, and actionable budgetary and policy recommendations.

10 working days;

By 30 August 2024

Summarize analysis results in PPT and present findings to relevant key stakeholders, including government officials, education experts, and civil society organizations, to facilitate dialogue and action on addressing equity and inclusion in education. PPT and presentations

1.5 working days;

By 15 September 2024

Based on final and agreed report, prepare jointly with the Technical Working Group publicly oriented Policy Brief including main findings and recommendations. Draft and Final Policy Brief highlighting main findings and challenges.

2 working days;

By 30 September 2024

Estimated Duration of the Contract

47.5 working days between May and November 2024.

Consultant’s Work Place and Official Travel

The Consultant will be home-based in Bratislava, with possibility to work from MoF premises in Bratislava. There are no foreseen travels for this assignment.

Estimated Cost of the Consultancy & Payment Schedule

Payment will be made on submission of an invoice and satisfactory completion of the above-mentioned deliverables. UNICEF reserves the right to withhold all or a portion of payment if performance is unsatisfactory, if work/outputs are incomplete, not delivered or for failure to meet deadlines. All materials developed will remain the copyright of UNICEF and UNICEF will be free to adapt and modify them in the future.

Please submit a professional fee (in USD) based on 47.5 working days to undertake this assignment.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • Master’s degree in economics, social, educational sciences or relevant fields.
  • At least 6 years in the analysis of educational systems (at all levels of government).
  • Demonstrated expertise in quantitative research methods, data analysis, and policy analysis, with specific experience in education research and evaluation.
  • Demonstrated expertise in financial analysis.
  • Familiarity with the Slovak education system, socio-economic dynamics, and cultural context.
  • In-depth understanding of issues related to equity, inclusion, and diversity in education, particularly within the context of international assessments such as PISA.
  • Strong analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, with the ability to synthesize complex data and information into actionable recommendations.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to engage effectively with diverse stakeholders and facilitate consensus-building processes.
  • Fluency in Slovak and English languages, with proficiency in writing in English; and presenting research findings in both languages.
  • Proven ability to produce results and adhere to tight deadlines is desirable.
  • Teamwork ability is desirable.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s core values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, Accountability, and Sustainability (CRITAS), and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most marginalized children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.

Remarks:

Please include a full CV and Cover Letter in your application. Additionally, indicate your availability and professional fee (in USD) to undertake the terms of reference above. Applications submitted without a professional fee will not be considered. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

The selected candidate is solely responsible to ensure that the visa (applicable) and health insurance required to perform the duties of the contract are valid for the entire period of the contract. Selected candidates are subject to confirmation of fully-vaccinated status against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) with a World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed vaccine, which must be met prior to taking up the assignment. It does not apply to consultants who will work remotely and are not expected to work on or visit UNICEF premises, programme delivery locations or directly interact with communities UNICEF works with, nor to travel to perform functions for UNICEF for the duration of their consultancy contracts.

UNICEF offers reasonable accommodation for consultants with disabilities. This may include, for example, accessible software, travel assistance for missions or personal attendants. We encourage you to disclose your disability during your application in case you need reasonable accommodation during the selection process and afterwards in your assignment.

Advertised: 30 Apr 2024 Central Europe Daylight Time
Deadline: 07 May 2024 Central Europe Daylight Time

Apply now
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