Posted by on March 12, 2019

Beate Schmid-Behlau comments on the article “Impact beyond the tests: adult education that makes a real difference”

DVV International senior desk officer, responsible for Latin America

I enjoyed reading this article written by Chanell Butler Morello because it gives some food for thought on the idea that everything is measurable and on top that there is a tendency to develop standardised tests, so that the measurement (of the impact?) can be done quickly, reach as high numbers as possible, justify costs and probably also make measurement fairly cheap. The curriculum on the other hand – as described by the author – is contextualised and personalised, as are the learning experiences and learning processes of the participants. Whilst I do think that some of the learning stories she lists can be measured, others seem to be more engrained in the way students would perceive their own personal growth and in part their feeling of being proud for some of the changes they have achieved. 

What she describes falls well in line with the results of the Horizon 2020 project EduMAP, a European project (2016 -2019), in which DVV International has participated as lead of the work package on Good Practices in Adult Education to foster active citizenship engagement of young people in situations of risk, including those with mental and physical handicaps. Looking at examples of second chance, remedy and retraining as offers for young people at risk of social exclusion, some drivers for success could be identified as cross-cutting, based on the responses of adult education providers, learners and staff.

Learners interviewed in the EduMAP research context report similar experiences as mentioned in the article, some of them stating that specifically because of the personalised and flexible approach they regained self-confidence to re-engage in learning, socially connect with other people and have positive experiences.

Taking the opportunities a step forward, I personally think that engaging further in the theme of validation of competences and skills that have been acquired in non-formal and informal settings could provide a good foundation for enabling participants to take one step up the ladder towards gaining access to other training opportunities or validating their engagement. Learning from the EduMAP project, such a possibility for example has been set up in France by different social partners as a first inter-professional certification (CléA) in 2015. To me the professional knowledge and skills base developed in CléA covering seven issues:1.communicating in French; 2.using the basic rules of calculation and mathematical reasoning; 3.using normal information and numerical communication techniques; 4.the ability to work within the rules laid down by a working team;5.the ability to work autonomously, and to achieve an individual objective; 6.the ability to undertake lifelong learning;7.the mastery of movements and positions, and respect for elementary health, safety and environmental rules seems promising, because it does not only focus on professional competences and but at the same time provides some motivation to go further.

Making skills and competences visible, not necessarily measurable, contributes to a better recognition of learning experiences, processes and outcomes of all those whose contributions might not be captured by standardised tests. In my opinion what matters should not only be the idea that adults are able to learn everywhere and all the time, but that their learning can also be made visible, enabling them to develop a feeling of achievement and possibly be better respected socially.


Links to the AED 85/2018 publication in three languages: EnglishFrenchSpanish
Estos son los links para acceder a la publicación en tres idiomas: InglésFrancésEspañol
Voici les liens vers la publication en trois langues: Anglais FrançaisEspagnol

Para español favor usar google translator en los casos en que el artículo no está traducido al español

Veuillez utiliser google translator pour traduire les articles qui ne sont pas en français


  1. Yanina Paolasso
    March 18, 2019

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    With respect to Beate Schmid-Behlau’s comment, I believe that in Argentina the certifications granted to students should be regulated in a more exhaustive way, both formal, non-formal and informal. In the different jurisdictions of the country there are different criteria, which brings confusion.
    I keep reading, thank you!


    Respecto del comentario que realiza Beate Schmid-Behlau considero que en la Argentina se debiera reglamentar, de modo más exhaustivo las certificaciones que se les otorgan a los estudiantes tanto formal, como no formal e informal. En las distintas jurisdicciones del país existen diferentes criterios, lo que trae confusiones.
    Los sigo leyendo gracias!

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