The World Bank Group (WBG) is working with governments, development experts, and education specialists to ensure every classroom has a competent, supported, motivated, and caring teacher who can help students learn. Based on extensive research, including the 2018 World Development Report, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, the WBG has identified several teacher policy goals:
Attracting the best into teaching. Currently, most education systems do not attract applicants with strong backgrounds. Talented, mission-oriented individuals will be more inclined to enter teaching if entry requirements signal that it is a well-regarded profession, if compensation and working conditions are supportive, and if teachers have attractive career opportunities to develop as professionals. Better selection and retention, alongside policies that transition ineffective teachers out of the teaching force, will have positive long-term effects on teacher quality.
Motivating teachers to perform. Incentives are essential for effective teaching, and systems need to find ways to support teachers’ motivation. This may mean providing opportunities for career development, rewarding teachers not just based on seniority but also based on their commitment and effectiveness, increasing the prestige of teachers within the community, and supporting them consistently in the classroom.
Providing more effective training. While professional development programs are widespread, they are often one-off methods that are not evidence-based and largely ineffective. Programs need to be targeted and repeated, with follow-up coaching and ongoing mentorship. A survey of 38 countries found that 91 percent of teachers had participated in professional development in the previous year. But training is often short, theoretical, and of low quality, with little to show for it. To be effective, teachers need to be trained with concrete techniques, such as how to manage the classroom, engage students, reduce transition time, and effectively check student comprehension.
Improving metrics to support teaching. Most education systems do not assess learning and without metrics, teachers cannot teach to student ability. In many classrooms, learners are falling behind and only the most advanced students are continuing to learn. Struggling students, meanwhile, reach a point where they can’t catch up. A key principle to leave no student behind is to help teachers teach students at their level, often by relying on community teachers to provide remedial lessons to the lowest performers, reorganizing classes by ability, or using technology to adapt lessons. Often, it doesn’t require more teacher effort, but rather the tools and know-how to restructure the classroom.
The WBG is working with countries to create knowledge around what works and what doesn’t in improving teacher training and development. A recent report, What do teachers know and do? Does it matter? Evidence from primary schools in Africa, examines the learning crisis in African schools and uses data from nationally representative surveys to quantify teacher effort, knowledge, and skills. It found that, on average, students receive two hours and fifty minutes of teaching per day—or just over half the scheduled time. In addition, large numbers of teachers do not master student curricula, basic pedagogical knowledge is low, and the use of good teaching practices is rare.
The WBG report, Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean, distills the latest evaluation evidence and practical experience with teacher policy reforms from both within and outside the region. It describes how teacher absenteeism, poor preparation, low skill level and pay, and weak school leadership deprive students of a quality education in the region. To help countries address these challenges, it presents evidence on how to enhance student learning, including improvements on how to recruit, groom and motivate great teachers.
The WBG is also working with governments around the world on the SABER-Teachers program, which gathers and analyzes data on the teacher policies that govern public schools in education systems, in both developing and developed countries.
Drawing on extensive global evidence, SABER-Teachers empowers countries with information they can use to align their teacher policies to promote greater teacher effectiveness. SABER-Teachers has been used to provide guidance in dozens of countries, with many more analyses underway, and has contributed to policy and program design in Yemen, Bulgaria, Morocco and Mozambique.
Additional WBG reports focus on teacher management in specific countries, such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malawi, Indonesia, and Bihar, India. There are also impact evaluations on the effects of an at-scale teacher certification programs in Indonesia and a report that examines a teacher training program in Mongolia which, when delivered with the distribution of books, significantly improved student achievement.