RTEI is a global index built on the international right to education framework that monitors national progress towards its fulfillment using indicators specifically derived from international agreements and law. A cross-country index for the right to education can measure countries individual performance and hold governments accountable as duty bearers to guarantee quality educational opportunities to their citizens. RTEI’s methodology development is iterative and ongoing from 2015 to the current Index methods. Each biennial data collection cycle requires revisits and future changes. The RTEI 2018 Consultations which occurred between July and September 2017 collected information from over 20 stakeholders, including members of the RTEI advisory group, and experts in education, statistics, and research-based advocacy. The methods consultation notes summarize the results of those consultations and the recommendations for RTEI 2018 to create statistically sound analyses to increase cross-country comparability of the Index.

Building a composite index for cross-country comparisons presents challenges and concerns related to validity and reliability. Concerns include statistical and mathematical methodological soundness, indicator selection, to what extent indicators are context specific, the relative importance of the indicators (assigning weights), the most appropriate set of weights, the aggregation method, and the Index’s ability to allow for objective cross-country comparisons. The goal of 2018 methodology planning is to increase RTEI’s statistical robustness while maintaining relevancy to the complicated, often qualitative, satisfaction, fulfillment, and respect for the right to education worldwide. The following methodological revisions emphasize adapting the RTEI Questionnaire, identifying if and which variables could be consolidated, handling missing data and not applicable responses, checking for redundancy, responding to progressively realized rights, data weighting and aggregation, and identifying Index sensitivity and robustness.

Overall feedback from the consultations focused on how to communicate the methods to wide audiences, how to use the Index results, and specific recommendations for each revision described below (variable consolidation, handling missing data and not applicable responses, redundant variables, progressively realized obligations, data weighting and aggregation, and robustness).

Communicating RTEI Methods

One of the most salient feedback to the overall RTEI process and methods is that the analysis must be distilled to clearly represent how the Index scores are calculated and what they imply for advocacy and policy development (see Appendix 1).

Using RTEI results

Several consultations highlighted that country ranking could inaccurately present the state of the right to education in a country compared across borders. It is important that civil society organizations, advocates, and policy makers who use RTEI scores consider the disaggregated data as well as the overall Index score. The overall score shows a relative measure of the satisfaction of the right to education, but actual policy recommendations are found by digging into the data and uncovering where policy is lacking, why some subtheme and theme scores are comparably lower, and what data is missing to fully reflect the actual practice of the right to education in country.

CSOs interested in using RTEI results have many ways to search for data on rtei.org, identify specific indicators relevant to their work, draw on subtheme and theme scores to support their policy recommendations, and use (and develop their own) cross-cutting themes to emphasize locally relevant issues. For instance, RTEI results can be used in SDG 4 monitoring, to identify gaps in SDG 4 implementation and present avenues for further policy and national data collection (See Appendix 2 for SDG 4 related indicators).

In addition to cross-cutting themes, RTEI 2018 results will include the UNDP’s Education Index variable for users who wish to compare Index scores, or calculate their own, using the Human Development Report (UNDP, 2015). Similarly, as described below in the benchmarks section, RTEI uses international benchmarks to calculate overall scores for indicators that are not measurable on a 0 to 100 percent scale. In RTEI 2018, benchmarks for countries based on income level (high income countries, upper-middle income countries, lower-middle income countries, and lower income countries) will also be available for users to identify regional comparisons.

Next steps

RTEI is an iterative ongoing research-to-advocacy project using open, consultative action-research approach both with CSO partners who complete the Questionnaire, the RTEI advisory group, and external researchers and practitioners interested in the Index development. As the Index develops, future external methodological review will be explored.

Programmatically, RTEI is currently focusing on outcomes from 2017 advocacy campaigns and similarly will emphasize country specific reporting in 2018 and how national results are relevant to pertinent issues for national policy makers and advocates. The full methods notes are available here and the consultation webinar is below.