Download TERCE's information kit (PDF Spanish/English)

Photo: UNESCO/Carolina Jerez

What is TERCE?
The Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (TERCE) is the third assessment of learning in primary education carried out by LLECE since it was created in 1994; it was preceded by the First Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (PERCE) in 1997 and the Second Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (SERCE) in 2006.

Who coordinates it?
TERCE is organised and coordinated by the Latin American Laboratory for the Assessment of Quality in Education (LLECE), and forms part of the general actions of UNESCO's Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) which aim to ensure the right of all Latin American and Caribbean pupils to receive a quality education.

Which countries participate in TERCE?
There are 15 participating countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, plus the Mexican state of Nuevo León.

When was the study carried out?
The main phases – preparation, pilot application, final application and analysis – were carried out between 2011 and 2014.

What is the main objective?
TERCE’s goal is to contribute to informed public debate on inclusive quality education in favour of guaranteeing the right to education, to which all UNESCO's efforts are directed.

To do this it measures learning achievements in mathematics and language in third grade pupils and the same disciplines plus natural sciences in sixth grade pupils in primary education in 15 countries across the region, identifying associated factors which influence these results.

How are learning achievements measured? As in its predecessors, PERCE and SERCE, tests are applied in TERCE to examine elements common to the school curricula of the region – mathematics, reading, writing and natural sciences.

Development procedure

How many schools participated?
The final sample of TERCE was 3,065 schools in the 15 participating countries plus the Mexican state of Nuevo León.

How many pupils participated?
A total of 195,752 pupils participated, of whom 100,752 were in third grade and 95,000 in sixth grade.

How many teachers participated?
A total of 9,965 teachers participated in the study, of whom 4,928 teach third grade pupils and 5,037 teach sixth grade.

What are the associated factors?
They are the variables which influence pupil learning, such as socio-economic, family and personal context, educational policy and school dynamics.

Relevance and value

What makes the TERCE stand out?
It is a participative process. The test items and context questionnaires, as well as the study implementation process, were designed with the participating countries in a collaborative process that incorporated the opinions and observations of the National Coordination teams and the Technical Coordination team at OREALC/UNESCO Santiago.

It focuses on the school curriculum in each country. This participative process ensures that the tests applied by LLECE are culturally adapted to each country, and prevents the imposition a foreign standard, as occurs in other international assessments.

It assesses primary education. TERCE assesses educational levels that are fundamental for the pupils’ future. It is a stage in the educational process in which public policy based on accurate evidence can make all the difference for pupils that come from vulnerable backgrounds, thus making the system fairer.

It is comparative. TERCE will be comparable with LLECE’s second study, SERCE. Specifically, each participating country can compare its national score.

It measures writing skills. This assessment will reveal the students’ skill levels in terms of their organisation, synthesis and consistent and coherent expression of ideas, which are fundamental to human and professional development in the 21st century. It is one of the few studies in the world to assess writing skills, and the only one in Latin American countries.

It measures the effect of ICT on learning. In an innovative approach, analysis of the factors associated with learning achievement will measure the impact that the variety and intensity of use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are having on pupil performance. This is a factor of increasing importance for learning achievement.

It measures associated factors at a national level. Analysis of the associated factors will gather specific information on the situation in each country. To this end, each participating country was asked to select a research topic which they would like to learn more about, under the hypothesis that this is an important factor in explaining pupils' results in their national education context.

National associated factor modules were developed for Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which will provide information to be used for the development of education policies according to each country’s context.

Why is TERCE important?
TERCE's importance has to do with aspects of both form and substance. In terms of form, it is the biggest and most ambitious assessment of pupil performance in Latin America. It is also a collective effort by the participating countries, duly coordinated by the central LLECE team and supported by a High Level Consultative Committee (HLCC) and experts in each area.

In terms of substance, TERCE represents an effort by 15 Latin American countries and OREALC/UNESCO Santiago to help improve opportunities for pupils through access to quality education.

Why is TERCE’s focus on school curricula important?
TERCE's analysis of pupils' learning achievements, inequalities in learning and the factors explain differences in achievement. It can provide valuable input data for the drafting of education policy in accordance with the situation in the country in question, appropriate to its political and social context and its capacities.

What is the purpose of TERCE's focus on school curricula?
The TERCE tests were based on an analysis of the school curricula of all participating countries. This included review, systematisation and analysis of the content prescribed by the various curricula in the different areas assessed in the region, in order to establish conceptual domains common to primary school pupils in all the participating countries. TERCE identifies the common contents, the focuses through which the countries assess their pupils' performance, and the way in which these focuses are organised.  Using these focuses as criteria, TERCE helps to enrich knowledge on educational assessment in the region.

Why is it important that TERCE should be a participative process?
The collaborative work between LLECE and the participating countries has allowed the latter to benefit from the discussions on technical and strategic matters in education assessment, and also encouraged interaction with experts from other countries with different education situations.

How else does TERCE contribute?
Just like its predecessors PERCE and SERCE, the preparation of this third study has generated various training activities, increasing the capacities of the participating countries to run their own assessment processes.


Download TERCE's information kit (PDF Spanish/English)

Contact us

TERCE who's who
Country teams and UNESCO contacts

Contacts for the press

Carolina Jerez Henríquez
Knowledge Management Section, OREALC/UNESCO Santiago
Email: c.jerez(at)unesco.org
Tel. (+56-2) 24724607

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