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Blog
  • 29.07.2021

A priority in the recovery: Supporting teachers for success

Authors: Adelle Pushparatnam, Ezequiel Molina, & Ana Teresa del Toro Mijares from the World Bank’s Teachers Thematic Group.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused drastic disruption to education systems around the world: more than 1.6 billion children have lost months of instructional time, more than 150 million have not had any kind of in-person learning in over a year, and many children are still not back in school today. The pandemic has challenged education systems to ensure learning continuity, and reopening efforts must focus on getting students back to school as quickly as possible, and urgently reversing significant learning losses.

There will be no education recovery without teachers. Even in ordinary times, the quality of teaching that students receive is the most important driver of learning within an educational system, and the importance of teachers goes far beyond students’ cognitive achievement: research also shows that successful teachers contribute to students’ non-cognitive learning and outcomes well beyond their schooling years. The current pandemic has only reinforced the importance of teachers. In the post-pandemic period, teachers will play the most critical role in the front lines in delivering the appropriate support so that students and schools can recover as quickly and effectively as possible.

The challenges brought on by COVID-19, in addition to the global learning crisis already underway before the disruptions, necessitate strengthening teachers’ capacities to teach well and meet the new and evolving challenges our classrooms, schools and systems face today. Teachers’ jobs, already complex pre-pandemic, will only grow more challenging. As students return to school, teachers will need to employ rapid-action learning assessments and tools to track learning losses. Teachers will need to develop targeted and sequenced remedial learning plans, and strategize how to deliver these alongside the current year’s curriculum and learning. Teachers will also need to provide important social and emotional support to students. And many teachers will need to deliver this support in innovative ways, blending in-person, remote, and hybrid approaches, as the health situation continues to evolve on the ground.

Providing teachers with high-quality professional development (PD) opportunities cannot be an afterthought or an add-on: it needs to be considered as an essential funding priority for the recovery period and beyond.

Even before the pandemic, many education systems were not providing teachers with PD opportunities to strengthen their teaching practice, and what was offered was often not aligned with best practice, ultimately not effectively supporting teachers in improving their classroom teaching, and not leading to improvements in student learning. 

It is more important than ever in the recovery context that teachers not only receive PD opportunities, but that these be aligned with evidence-based principles of effective teacher PD so that they can strengthen their teaching skills, and build new skills to meet the evolving challenges on the ground. Effective in-service PD must be tailored to teachers’ needs, providing targeted support in the areas in which teachers need the most support. PD must also be practical, with active learning strategies that provide teachers with opportunities to practice new skills and receive feedback on them. It must be focused, selective and strategic in scope, with sufficient time and resources to adequately cover the content. Finally, PD must be ongoing, providing continuous support over a sustained period to ensure that new skills and knowledge are consolidated and internalized. The complexity of the new tasks that teachers will take on, the multiple demands placed on them, and the rapidly evolving context on the ground, only reinforce the importance of these principles as guidance posts in the design and development of high-quality PD to support teachers.

Ultimately, as countries around the world shift to re-opening and prepare for the difficult task of education recovery, it is teachers who will be in the front lines of this challenging effort. Ensuring adequate funding for high-quality and effective PD experiences for all teachers that support their development and success, must be a priority that goes hand-in-hand as we work on getting students and teachers back in classrooms. Ultimately, supporting teachers’ learning and capacity-building means supporting students and schools.

At the World Bank, this is the context that has motivated the development of our new program Coach. Coach aims to help countries improve and develop highly effective teacher PD systems and programs that leverage insights from the fields of adult learning and behavioral science. The Coach tools & resources have been designed to support countries along every stage of their journey in designing, implementing and evaluating high-quality and effective teacher professional development programs and systems, aligned with what we know works from research and the experience of the most successful programs in the field. Programs such as Coach that seek to build and strengthen teachers’ skills are more essential than ever to helping education systems meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

To learn more about the World Bank’s work supporting teachers, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, check out our webpage, or write to us at teach@worldbank.org. 

 

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.

Photo credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Blog
  • 30.06.2021

Evaluating global progress on improving teacher quality: ISCED-T and other possible metrics

By Maria Teresa Tatto, Arizona State University.

While it has long been recognised that teachers require adequate qualifications and training, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted as never before the critical role of highly qualified teachers. In particular, the crisis brought to light teachers’ need for distance-based pedagogical skills, digital and ICT skills, socio-emotional skills, and greater capacity for self-directed learning, innovation and creativity. To improve teacher quality, however, it is vital to be able to measure it. The development in 2021 of a new classification system of teacher training programmes (ISCED-T) is an important step forward in measuring teacher quality.

Let’s take a look at current global measurement of teacher quality, which is based on Target 4.c of the Sustainable Development Goals: “By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.” To assess progress against SDG4.c, two kinds of indicators are currently used. One type sheds light on remuneration and incentives, Indicator 4.c.5 (i.e., salary relative to professions with similar levels of qualifications) and Indicator 4.c.6, teacher attrition rates, which are often related to the former. The other type focuses more directly on teacher quality including the following concepts:

  • Trained teachers (Indicator 4.c.1) - “Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications”, defined as those who have received at least the minimum organized pedagogical teacher training pre-service and in-service required for teaching. It is also the global indicator for tracking target 4.c;
  • Qualified teachers (Indicator 4.c.3) - “Percentage of teachers qualified according to national standards”, defined as those who have at least the minimum academic qualifications required for teaching their subjects at the relevant level; and
  • Supported teachers (Indicator 4.c.7) - “Percentage of teachers who received in-service training in the last 12 months.”

In addition, indicators 4.c.2 and 4.c.4 measure the ratios of pupils to trained teachers and qualified teachers, respectively, providing a measure of students’ relative access to teachers and thus shining additional light on educational quality.

The problem with these global indicators is that there are no international definitions of “trained”, “qualified” or “supported” teachers – only national standards. For instance, “trained” primary teachers in Niger complete an upper secondary education diploma in teacher training, whereas in South Africa they complete a tertiary-level degree in education. Similarly, many teachers receive in-service training, but the length and quality of training varies. Lastly, if countries find it difficult to comply with ambiguous notions of minimum training, they might tend to report a larger proportion of teachers as trained than that which reflects the actual situation.

The “qualified” teacher definition has similar limitations and related indicators require additional metrics showing whether teachers have been exposed to and have acquired the needed knowledge, skills, values and beliefs.

 

International Standard Classification of Teacher Training Programmes (ISCED-T)

High-quality teachers can only be developed through high-quality teacher education programmes. Building upon the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), a framework designed to generate comparable statistics on education and training, the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) has been developing a new classification of teacher training programmes as a contribution to tracking progress against SDG4.c. and shedding light on teacher training programmes.

Early analysis by UIS resulted in a list of ten potential criteria for classifying teacher training programmes:

  1. ISCED level of the training programme,
  2. the teaching level in which graduates are authorized to teach,
  3. education pre-requisites for entering the programme,
  4. duration of the programme,
  5. pathway to the teaching profession (concurrent, consecutive, alternative),
  6. type of institution,
  7. content (proportion of academic and pedagogical content);
  8. name of qualification or degree awarded,
  9. teaching practice required for completion, and
  10. probation/induction support.

The proposed new classification of teacher training programmes - or ISCED-T - and the proposed criteria should respond to current needs, but the number of criteria may need to be reduced to include only the four first indicators due to difficulty in collecting all the data and the need to balance detail with usability. However, while indicators 1-4 can shed much-needed light on critical aspects of teacher training quality, additional metrics are needed.

 

Reframing teacher education and development and opportunities to learn

The persistent gaps in information on teacher quality and the new spotlight on teachers due to COVID-19 signal an urgent need for creativity and international cooperation to collect data that measure key information about teacher training programmes. Given the variety in national standards, countries need to collaborate to develop universal standards and methodologies to measure teacher education quality.

Reframing teacher education and development standards is an important means to advance definitions, measurement and procedures to create sustainable indicators that provide valid evidence about SDG target 4.c. This effort may occur as part of the development of ISCED-T, the refinement of SDG4.c indicators or within alternative models to ensure the collection of a broader set of indicators that shed light on teacher qualifications and quality of their education and training.

Beginning in 2008, the TEDS-M and FIRSTMATH studies measured a comprehensive range of indicators of teacher education quality applicable at the international level in almost 30 countries. Such indicators have been linked to teacher education knowledge outcomes and with teacher success in the first years of teaching. The research has helped develop valid indicators of quality initial teacher education, practicum and induction. The following describes the main areas of teacher education and development and potential indicators and metrics needed to measure them.

 

Initial Teacher Education

Providing quality initial teacher education (ITE) is a critical step in developing effective teachers. Beyond some of the proxy criteria considered for inclusion in ISCED-T to shed light on programme quality (e.g., ISCED level of programme, minimum entry qualifications and duration), further unpacking ITE can yield several other important metrics. Indicators can help explore standards on programme content using information on the specific topics covered. This analysis can reveal, for example, whether teachers have had comprehensive training in subject-matter and the subtopics of different fields of knowledge. For pedagogical content knowledge and other pedagogical skills, it is possible to employ scales asking whether teachers had opportunities to learn about lesson planning, practicing and evaluating instruction, teaching students from a diverse range of ability and cultural backgrounds, providing feedback, and assessing student learning.

 

Practicum

The practicum or internship experience typically occurs as part of formal teacher training programmes and is designed to help students connect theoretical knowledge of teaching to a practical setting under supervision by more experienced teachers. In assessing teacher quality, it is important to know whether teachers received opportunities to learn to manage in real school settings, the demands of the curriculum and compliance with school norms. Moreover, the practicum period can lead to critical opportunities for change when pre-service teachers undergo learning experiences with interpretation assistance by mentors. Scales can be used to indicate the proportion of teachers who report opportunities to reflect on and improve their practice and engage in situational problem-solving. Scales can also be used to assess the quality of the feedback received. Additional data could include the duration of practicum in notional hours and when it was introduced (i.e., mostly at the end of the programme, during theoretical training or sandwiched between).

 

Induction

Induction occurs once teachers are hired and helps them as new professionals to learn about school norms, regulations and procedures. Scales can also be used to indicate the proportion of teachers who report having a quality induction experience including their success in mastering skills and procedures.

 

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CPD is critical to ensure teachers have opportunities to learn knowledge and skills required to remain up to date with evolving curriculum and administrative norms. Beyond the SDG target on percentage of teachers receiving in-service training within the past 12 months, additional indicators could shed light on the type of CPD including different subject-matter areas, pedagogical skills, use of ICT or on TPACK, which explores the intersection between content, pedagogy and technology; it could also include indicators related to notional hours of CPD during the academic year. Another key indicator of a high-quality CPD is whether it results in the formation of a learning community where teachers can meet in person or virtually to share knowledge of practices and other general information.

 

Learning outcomes

Finally, indicators of teachers’ levels of competence could be developed from low-stakes formative assessments of the knowledge, skills, values and beliefs that teachers need to be effective. This would help monitor the quality of the education/preparation that teachers have received during and at the end of their programmes, and whether further support is needed. Teacher CPD frameworks based on teachers’ expected competencies can inform national-level indicators that can be developed and used to assess whether teachers have attained expected outcomes for their level and rank in the national structure, as well as other expectations based on subject matter specialization, educational level, and other criteria. The TEDS-M and FIRSTMATH studies have provided a useful international framework that can be adapted to measure whether ITE and CPD are meeting their objectives.

 

Conclusion

ISCED-T will provide a much-needed classification system to shed more light on the quality of training programmes and therefore teachers; it should however be complemented with new measures of opportunities that teachers have to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and beliefs that allow them to be effective. ISCED-T can be complemented by a broader scope of indicators reflecting the lifespan of teacher preparation and professional development. It can also be complemented by low stakes formative assessments that measure the levels of knowledge acquired by teachers during and after the end of their education and/or training. This more comprehensive perspective on teachers’ lifelong learning will increasingly be important to effectively develop, measure and benchmark teacher quality at the national and international levels.

The author of this blog is Dr Maria Teresa Tatto, an expert in the field of comparative education with a focus on teacher education systems. As Executive Director and lead principal investigator of the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M)—the first global international study of educator preparation in mathematics—she created a theoretical framework to analyze the relationships between teacher preparation research, policy, and practice. Dr Maria Teresa Tatto is a Professor of Comparative Education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in the Division of Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University.

For more information and data related to teachers, see the Teacher Task Force information related to SDG4.c indicators as well as additional international sources of data and statistics on teachers and teaching.

Photo credit: Antenna/Unsplash

News
  • 28.05.2021

The Teacher Task Force launches an international campaign to boost funding for the teaching profession

June 1st - The International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 is launching a campaign calling on governments and the donor community to urgently increase their funding of teachers and teaching. Such an increase is crucial to help education systems recover from the COVID-19 crisis and build their resilience. It is also critically needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the education goal and its targets.

Qualified and motivated teachers are the single-most important school-based determinant of quality education. Around the world, however, there not enough teachers and large numbers of teachers have not received sufficient training.

People who are already disadvantaged are disproportionally affected by these shortfalls. Remote and poor areas face acute teacher shortages, swelling class numbers and shrinking learning time. This “teacher gap” – quantitative and qualitative – is one of the world’s biggest education challenges.

The COVID-19 crisis and ensuing school closures have posed unprecedented challenges for education systems. The crisis threatens to significantly slow progress towards many of the global development goals, especially the education-related goals. It is also likely to exacerbate the global learning crisis and global education inequalities, as the impact falls disproportionately on the poorest. Education budgets are coming under strain, in particular in middle- and low-income countries. Reductions in public spending have been coupled with the financial strain felt by households as the global recession unfolds.

The crisis has shown clearly the need to sustain and increase domestic and international investment in teachers and teaching, especially salaries, which make up the largest component of education budgets. Further investment is also needed so that teachers are prepared and supported for the challenges that the crisis has caused, notably to enable remedial teaching and ensure that a generation of learners is not lost.

The Teacher Task Force campaign aims to secure the international community’s commitment to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers by 2030 through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states. In particular, it will call for greater funding to:

  1. maintain salaries and enhance working conditions to attract quality candidates
  2. improve teachers’ continuing professional development
  3. ensure health and safety and provide psychosocial support for teachers and pupils.

The time to invest in teachers is now – to ensure sustainable recovery from the crisis and prepare today’s learners for tomorrow. Join us to call on national decision makers and international funding organisations to make the best investment they can make – in today’s teachers for tomorrow’s future.

More information and to sign the call, visit the campaign’s webpage.

Event
  • 11.05.2021

UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development - call for nominations 2021-2022

The seventh edition of the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development has opened the call for nominations.

Funded by the Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance, the prize is awarded every two years and recognizes innovative practices that contribute to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning around the world, with priority given to developing countries and to marginalized and disadvantaged communities.

The Prize of US $300,000 will be divided between three winners.

Candidates should be institutions, organizations and educational or research institutes which are working to enhance the performance and effectiveness of teachers.

Applications are to be submitted in English or French by 31 October 2021 at midnight (Paris time, GMT+1) via a dedicated online platform.  For more information on the nomination and application process, download the application guide and visit the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development website.

Download the Statutes of UNESCO-Hamdan Prize.

Enquiries regarding the selection process should be addressed to the Prize Secretariat, phone: +33 1 45 68 23 22, e-mail: teacherprize@unesco.org(link sends e-mail).