United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Research of Students Achievements


    International Research of Students Achievements (IRSA) is a cross-country project aimed at achievement of SDG 4 (targets 4.1 and 4.C) and SDG 17th (targets 17.9 and 17.6) through promotion of use of innovative methodologies for education quality assessment, capacity building, production of reliable scientific data for better policymaking and accelerating regional and transnational cooperation. The core of the IRSA Project is a longitude research supported by training, knowledge exchange events, contributions to public good and wide results dissemination. The current participating countries include Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia.


    Project has started in June 2016 as a part of the World Banks development aid program Russia Education Aid for Development launched in frames of UN Millennium Development Goals agenda. Project IRSA has long term and short-term objectives. Long term objectives are to align national strategies in education with SD agenda, wider involvement of different actors into implementation of SDG4 in the region, to improve policymaking in education by regular provision of reliable scientific data and to inbuild new assessment tools in national systems of education quality assessment. The short-term objectives are conducting cross-country education quality research, capacity building for local teachers, researchers and educators, development and strengthen of regional and transnational dialogue on improvement of the education quality.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    IRSA Project was developed by the international group of educators and experts that are participating in the largest Russian initiative aimed at provision of development aid to low-income countries in their effort for achievement of Millennium Development Goals (further on Sustainable Development Goals) and in particular goal on education. IRSA Project contributes to development of tools, stimulating research a activities and provision of training to specialists. All that creates supporting environment for implementing Sustainable Development agenda at national and regional levels.

    Implementation methodologies

    Core activity for the IRSA is a longitudinal cross-country research. The planning for the project is done through joint work of group of experts from participating countries under supervision of international consultants. National teams participate in the field work collecting data using modern methodology for assessment. It is necessary to introduce new effective instruments to measure learning outcomes for low-income countries to keep them on track with SDG agenda while not all of them can participate in international monitoring such as PISA, etc. Key activities encompass three domains: training and “learning by doing”, research conducting and results dissemination. Training and “learning by doing” activities aim at developing educators’ capacity including youth and specialists without experience. Main approach is a “learning by doing” when national teams take part in localization of an assessment tool and studying tool methodologies, data analysis and project results dissemination. Specialists also encouraged to publish papers on the research results and present them at different international events. Project includes regulas seminars with educational authorities (including policymakers) on improvement of education through use of reliable data. Regular assessment, rather than single-slice sampling, will make it possible to track trends in the level of achievements and quality of education over time. Financial resources for the project provided by the READ Program. Participating countries represented by organizations dedicate resources such office premises and equipment, paid working time and other resources necessary for conducting research and organizing educational events.


    IRSA results is information on quality of basic education in participating countries and factors that impact it the most. Research has a special focus on schools with students from ethnical minorities and vulnerable groups. Information used for educational interventions and management in frames of countries’ strategy to achieve SDG4. It is presented at seminars in participating countries (with governmental representatives to ensure encoring research results in educational policy) and workshops, cost-effective online information sharing via websites and webinars, and support for the publication of the findings by national teams. Other outcomes include improved capacity of local educators in frames of use of educational assessment in everyday teaching practices and the possibilities it provides for better education quality management. Making professional society, general public (mostly educational stakeholders) more aware of SDGs implementation is also an outcome of the IRSA project.

    Factors and Constraints

    The biggest constrain was the level of expertise held by the local specialists. Education quality assessment and research is a new scientific sphere for some countries and there are very few specialists who can conduct research. Project included overcoming of this through constant tailored practical and theoretical training. School administration and parents were also not aware of the need for additional testing. Special attention was paid to inform general public of outcomes of the project (improving education quality and making it more inclusive). Common past and shared approaches of the project countries helped to overcome difficulties.

    Sustainability and replicability

    IRSA is underlined by the solid methodology. It was planned, developed and reviewed with help of world known experts in the sphere. The universal methodology of the IRSA research is scalable and can be used in the countries with similar educational approach or cultural context. Instruments used for data collection was developed for use in Russia but then localized for other languages and cultural context. Universal localization methodology is also reviewed by World Bank experts and provided to new project participants. The methodologies for IRSA and localization provided for free. The localized tools become countries own. Tools for assessment are provided for teachers and school administrations to use in everyday practice. All interested parties can use the tool and receive training on its use free of charge. Project also supports any further research work that applies methodologies. IRSA is open for participation to more countries.

    COVID-19 Impact

    IRSA unites specialists from many countries. For the purposes of the project distant learning technologies and online communications platform were used from the day one. IRSA project continued to operate almost without any interruption. 2020 was the year to present the first results (in the format of publications and presentations at events) and it was made successfully due to big effort of organizers of the international conferences that managed to move them to online format. COVID-19 also stimulated to advance our work of converting many assessment tools applied in the IRSA into computerized format that doesn’t require strong internet connection so they could be used practically in any school. These assessment tools can be used in teaching practices during long distant learning periods.

    Contact Name
    Daria Ovcharova
    Center for International Cooperation in Education Development
    Geographical coverage

    Central Asia, CIS countries, Eastern Europe, Russia

    01 March 2016 (start date)
    01 January 2025 (date of completion)
    More information
    Russian Federation
    Russian Federation
    Contact Information

    Daria Ovcharova