Recommendations to Refine Grupo Faro's Monitoring and Evaluation Tools for the "Comunidades de Aprendizaje" Program

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2020-04-29

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This report provides recommendations on how to strengthen and synthesize the monitoring and evaluation tools developed for Grupo Faro’s main education program. Grupo Faro is a think-tank based in Quito, Ecuador who, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education has been implementing learning communities in over 10 schools in the country since 2017. Grupo Faro serves as an advisor to each school, identifying and resolving any ongoing implementation challenges. At the same time, they also evaluate the program by gathering and acting upon relevant quantitative and qualitative information through surveys, interviews and focus groups.

The education system in Ecuador has undergone transformative changes over the past two decades, including a renewed emphasis on rigorous evaluation to design and implement education practices. Notable accomplishments include students’ improved academic performance in national and international tests and universal access to education in the country. However, there are still persistent issues experienced in how students learn, the way teachers are trained, and how engaged and influential family members are in the school-system’s decision-making process.

Additionally, there are concerning inequities among students from low-income backgrounds, rural locations and self-identified ethnic/linguistic minorities. Learning communities are a multi-faceted, dynamic education model developed by the University of Barcelona Community of Research on Excellence for All (CREA). European’s Commission Project Include-ed studied the model's impact and effect on school systems from 2006-2011. The studies present strong evidence that suggests learning communities can have a positive impact in all school communities, but particularly those most vulnerable. As a result, many countries including many in South America, have replicated and adapted the model. Learning communities’ principal goal is to improve how students learn. Equally important goals are to increase the students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, levels of engagement and sense of belonging and inclusion. Learning communities aim to improve how every individual in the school community interacts with one another. In order to achieve this, the intervention consists of a variety of methods called “Actuaciones Educativas de Exito” or successful educational practices (SEAs). There are six SEAs that are most salient in Ecuador’s context: family education, dialogic literary gatherings, mixed commissions, conflict prevention and resolution, interactive groups and dialogic pedagogical trainings. In other contexts, learning communities have been leveraged to alleviate many of the challenges Ecuador’s education system exhibits.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education assumes the role of replicating learning communities to new schools. Grupo Faro will provide support and advice to the Ministry of Education staff on how to implement correctly and successfully, while continuing to support schools initially selected into the pilot program.

Given that the implementation will rest on another stakeholder, and considering that maintaining model fidelity is an inherent challenge encountered when reproducing across contexts, Grupo Faro wanted to revisit, refine and strengthen their current monitoring and evaluation system. After in-depth discussions with the client, we identified the research question to be: “What should Grupo Faro do to refine their monitoring and evaluation tools in their “learning communities” program”. To answer this question, I developed a logic model, analyzed current tools and conducted site visits in Quito and Manta. Chapter 6 expands on the methods used further.

This report discusses Ecuador’s education system in Chapter 1, and examines the research and development of learning communities in Europe and Latin America in Chapter 4. Chapter 7 explains Grupo Faro’s current monitoring and evaluation system, which includes: Attitudes’ and Perception Survey 2017 & 2019, and focus groups differentiated by stakeholder (teachers, students, school leaders, and parents). Grupo Faro also collected relevant quantitative data such as students’ academic performance and attendance. All tools coalesce on four main broad dimensions: changes in teaching and learning, in community participation, in leadership, and in conflict prevention and resolution. Chapter 9 summarizes site visit observations conducted in December for each SEA, and synthesizes interviews. This insights and discussion section draws from primary observations, and previous qualitative data collected by Grupo Faro.

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Duchicela, Shylah (2020). Recommendations to Refine Grupo Faro's Monitoring and Evaluation Tools for the "Comunidades de Aprendizaje" Program. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20760.


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