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What does the “Study of Performance in Saber Pro Educational Sciences Tests 2012-2021” say?

What does the “Study of Performance in Saber Pro Educational Sciences Tests 2012-2021” say?

The study presented by “Ascofad” reveals the gaps between future teachers in the country compared to other educational programs and among the colleges of education themselves.

by: Colombian Association of Colleges of Education, Ascofade
06 October 2023

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In addition to studying the historical performance of colleges of education students in Saber Pro tests, the data analysis tool was delivered to institutions in the sector.

The Colombian Association of Faculties of Education, Ascofade, presented the results of the study and additionally shared a tool for administrators and faculties of education that allows them to refer to specific information, make comparisons and analyze data for decision-making within their institutions.

The study conducted by the Universidad del Norte consists of two large components, the first is the general survey, an overview, taking historical results between 2012 and 2021 in the Saber Pro tests, and the second is detailed information for the education sector.

Juan Davis Parra, project manager, explained that in its first component – which can be reflected in Products 2, 3 and 5 of the study – a comparison of performance results between education programmes, compared to other programs was carried out. A second comparison was also carried out specifically between educational programmes. For universities and different regions in the country. “The period from 2016 to 2021 was taken because the results of the Saber Pro tests are only comparable from 2016, due to methodological changes made by Icfes. What we have done is to get a detailed look at different types of variables and characteristics associated with performance, to see how different education programs perform.“.

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The study revealed that between 2019 and 2021, an overall decrease of 15% to 10% was observed in the number of students taking the Saber Pro exam in education and other reference groups. Slight increase in cases such as medicine, entertainment, accounting and related, entertainment, sports and health.

Education students also scored lower on general skills such as quantitative reasoning and writing compared to other groups. There were improvements in writing in 2021, but performance in quantitative reasoning remained low.We still face many challenges in colleges of education, because there are gaps compared to other knowledge centersBarra added.

Key findings:

  • The gaps are mainly due to the geographical location of the educational offer, as well as the quality and conditions of the programmes. This situation applies to both general and specific tests.
  • Programs with the highest academic performance are in the central regions (e.g. Bogotá and Antioquia).
  • Face-to-face teacher training appears to have advantages over virtual and distance methods.
  • High-quality accredited bachelor’s degrees appear to have a greater ability to improve students’ basic skills.
  • The analysis shows significant differences in scores and performance levels depending on accreditation, method, sector and character of the educational institution.
  • Universities tend to have better results than university institutions, and municipal public institutions also have superior performance compared to other categories.
  • Programs with higher enrollment rates tend to have higher average scores on general competencies, while programs with fewer students and those in the Southern Andes region top perform.
  • At the aggregate level, factors such as cost of education, geographic location, teaching method, high-quality accreditation, and disciplinary focus play a critical role in training future teachers.
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One of the most important findings of the study is the presence of statistically significant differences (negative or in favor of other fields) in the performance of education students compared to groups such as the natural and exact sciences, humanities, and medicine. In general, there were no statistically significant differences compared to other groups in some specializations such as psychology and accounting.

There was an overall decline in general skills such as quantitative reasoning and written communication from 2016 to 2021. English improved, but most students received low test scores. Citizenship competencies and critical reading had variable results, with performance concentrated at lower levels.

This cross-sectional study of the performance of those who will work as teachers becomes a milestone. The importance, according to Barra, lies in the fact that this is the case “It allows us to ask questions about these gaps, because they are visible“.

Regarding the cause of the gaps, an attempt was made to identify variables that influenced performance levels on Saber Pro tests, such as cost of education, geographic location, teaching method, high-quality accreditation, and others.

As a second result of the study, the working group created an indicator dashboard that allows for more advanced comparisons between deans of different colleges of education and academic units in the country.

Here you will be able to check a variety of information to see how faculty members are performing in different general and specific competencies: teaching, assessment and training. All this information can be filtered by number of students, by sector (formal or informal), by program methodology (in-person or distance learning), socio-economic levels, ethnic education, etc. Allowing anyone to navigate and make comparisons to put themselves in perspective so they can conduct analysis, ask questions and make decisions based on their program, among other things.Barra added.

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The indicator panel will allow “real-time” analysis of Saber Pro results in tutorials and the goal is that this tool can be updated year after year by Ascofade.

“It is a tool that will help us continue to update information and take actions that we deem appropriate for faculty. We hope that it will help colleges themselves consider their own assessment and assurance plans.”added Cecilia DeMatte, National President and Dean of Ascofade From the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the Externado de Colombia University.