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Last December, we witnessed the predictable and sad ritual that occurs every three years: the disclosure of Brazil's results in the PISA exam (Program for International Student Assessment, International Student Assessment Program). Promoted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it evaluates the learning of young people from participating countries, in the areas of reading, mathematics and science.

As widely publicized, our performance was once again poor and lagging not only among wealthy nations, but also in countless developing countries as well as ours. And so it has been since the first edition, in 2000, when the then President of the Republic could not have asked a more pertinent question to the Minister of Education, when he proposed Brazil's participation: what if we are last? After all, this is what actually happened later.

And as predictable as our poor performance with each application of the evaluation is the flood of regrets, criticisms and proposed solutions, which appear in the days that follow the dissemination of the results. But regardless of opinions, governments and economic contexts, most likely nothing will be significantly different in the test to be applied as early as 2021, the result of which will be available in 2022.

In this recurring pre-scheduled flood, a topic tends to receive little attention, inconsistent with its importance and with its potential to contribute to the improvement of the training of our children and young people: the national processes for evaluating basic education. It is extremely important to have systematic, continuous, comprehensive, comparable and multifaceted indicators, which allow us to adequately identify the positive results, whose good practices that produced them should, whenever possible, be studied, shared and generalized. And also to detect poor performance, the causes of which are identified and remedied, as well as the lessons learned and disseminated.

Only with complete and reliable data, the necessary decisions can be made and the realistic, feasible and lasting solutions implemented - and not adventures, immediacy or recipes known to be doomed to failure. It is the patriotic duty here, regardless of convictions, parties and aspirations, to add municipal, state, federal and private efforts, for the good of all.

We already have good initiatives in this regard, such as Prova Brasil, the National Basic Education Assessment System (Saeb) and, in a way, the National High School Examination (ENEM), but a problem has always been present: the great variation among the contents taught in the thousands of educational institutions in this nation of continental dimensions.

The good news is that we are finally experiencing the implementation of the Common National Curricular Base (BNCC), which, despite not being immune to criticism, has brought about a significant improvement precisely in the national standardization of school curricula. Thus, the opportunity opens up to make assessments more complete, comprehensive and comparable, also fully incorporating the private education network - often left in the background - and allowing to further discriminate the effects of several factors involved, from the governor even the teacher in the classroom, through school management, infrastructure and the student himself.

More recently, the Federal Government has been studying changes in the SAEB, which would include more grades and areas of knowledge, as well as creating the National Fluency Assessment to measure the reading level in the 2nd year of elementary school. Although they deserve debate and improvements, they are changes that propose important advances that can effectively contribute to the quality and richness of the data available for the administration of educational policies.

Even more beneficial and desirable is that the results of these assessments are linked, in a fair, reasonable and appropriate way, to the remuneration of managers and to the teaching career in public networks, as well as to regulatory processes in the private network. After all, information is useless if it does not translate into concrete effects.

Thus, to paraphrase the Roman general Pompeu, in an expression eternalized by the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, evaluating is necessary, regretting is not necessary. If sailing at that time meant saving the population of Rome from hunger, improving the assessment of basic education in the Brazilian context is a first and important step in order to satisfy our need for quality education, national development and social justice.

Jeanfrank TD Sartori

Gazeta do Povo, 01/2020

Original Link | Publication PDF (Portuguese)

In Brazilian education, evaluating is necessary,

regret it is not necessary

(Translated from Portuguese by Google)

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