Publication Date



Developing countries, National competency tests, Case studies, Educational policy, Academic achievement, Policy formation, Policy implementation, Large scale assessment, Information dissemination, Year 5


This publication is the third in a series of topical case studies initiated jointly by the Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP) at UNESCO Bangkok and the Australian Council for Educational Research, Centre for Global Education Monitoring (ACER-GEM). It provides a detailed overview of the efforts and progress made by SEAMEO, UNICEF and the countries involved in the development, capacity building and implementation of the SEA-PLM program.

Series editors:
Jun Morohashi Regional Programme Coordinator, Executive Office, UNESCO Bangkok
Mark Manns Associate Programme Specialist, Section for Inclusive Quality Education, UNESCO Bangkok
Ursula Schwantner Senior Research Fellow, ACER-GEM

The SEA-PLM Secretariat, hosted by the SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO), contributed to the preparation of this article and wishes to particularly acknowledge and thank Jeaniene Spink, Research Director, and Jacqueline Cheng, Research Fellow, from ACER for their technical support to develop and review this paper.


The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) program is a regional assessment that aims to set a common approach to assessing the learning outcomes of students at Grade 5. As an alternative to international large-scale assessments and national assessments, SEA-PLM has developed a set of assessment and survey instruments for the Southeast Asian region. Designed to be a system-level monitoring tool of educational quality and equity, SEA-PLM covers four domains: mathematics, reading, writing and global citizenship. The assessment also includes questionnaires that gather important contextual information from students, parents, teachers and school principals. A key feature of the SEA-PLM assessment is that it has been developed on the basis of an assessment framework (UNICEF & SEAMEO, 2017) that was specially designed to suit the context of ASEAN and Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) member countries. The purpose of this paper is to share information on SEA-PLM regional- and country- level capacity development activities, which are a defining feature of the SEA-PLM initiative. It provides a record of program activities to date and describes the program's distinguishing features, goals and objectives as it moves into its first cycle of data with reporting planned for 2020. Key lessons learnt from the program's activities are examined, which may have important applications for other countries involved in developing large-scale assessment programs. The paper concludes with a reflection of how the SEA-PLM program constitutes a critical component of participating countries' SDG reporting requirements and offers a new regional tool to better respond to the changing needs of students in the 21st century.

Place of Publication

Camberwell, Australia


Australian Council for Educational Research



Geographic Subject

Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Myanmar


Article Location