PRINCIPLE 1: Make teaching attractive
This principle prioritizes improving the professional status of teaching to attract the best candidates into the profession. To this end, the Bank has been supporting countries in:
Building career progression structures to motivate and reward performance: Teachers usually have limited career progression opportunities beyond seeking promotion to become principals (often defined by years of experience and/or political connections). In contrast, opportunities for merit-based career advancement attract highly qualified candidates into teaching in well-performing systems like Singapore. The Bank supports countries in defining clear and transparent career progression structures that shape what is expected of teachers and determine ways to measure their progress and to help them improve.
The Bank worked with the government of West Bank and Gaza in the development of the Palestinian Teacher Professional Development Index of teaching competences, which contains clear expectations of teachers as they advance through career stages, provides benchmarks for teacher evaluation, and guidance for their professional development.
The Bank also supported the Dominican Republic in a comprehensive teacher reform that included the creation of Professional and Performance Standards for the Accreditation and Development of the Teaching Career. These standards are used in the process of selection, training, induction and evaluation of teachers.
In Sri Lanka, the Bank is supporting the development of a career framework that offers mobility across roles associated with the classroom, to administrative positions, and to roles involving advisory or training services or becoming a teacher-educator.
Improving teachers’ working conditions: Many education systems fail to provide basic working conditions for teachers to perform: teachers often have to deal with overcrowded classrooms, multi-grade classes, double shifts, insufficient school infrastructure (e.g. lack of toilets and water, lack of light to read the blackboard), lack of teaching materials (e.g. textbooks, chalk), low compensation (and in some countries, significant arrears) and a lack of belonging, belonging, and self-actualization. Recognizing the value of working conditions over teacher performance and learning, the Bank supports the improvement of teacher’s working conditions in several ways.
In countries like India, the Bank is financing upgrading of school infrastructure to create state of the art learning spaces with smart classrooms, STEM Labs, and resource rooms for children with special needs.
In Sierra Leone, DRC and Ethiopia, pedagogical teachers’ communities of practice are being established to reduce the isolation of the teaching profession and improve peer-to-peer support.
In Mexico, the Bank is supporting an initiative called Education for Wellbeing to help teachers cultivate important aspects of well-being using simple exercises that draw upon the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology.
Enhancing the profile of the teaching career: Student learning is higher in countries where teaching is a well-regarded profession. For instance, in Korea and Singapore more than 65% of teachers agree that society values their task.
The Bank has supported countries like Dominican Republic and Argentina to provide scholarships and stipends to high achieving students that want to pursue a career in teaching.
In Lao PDR, the Bank is supporting a media campaign to explain the importance of teachers for the country’s future as part of a package of interventions to increase teachers’ intrinsic motivation.
Principle 2: Improve pre-service
This principle prioritizes ensuring teachers are equipped to perform effectively. To this end, the Bank has been supporting countries in:
Improving trainees’ selection: In systems where the teaching career is prestigious and where student learning is high, such as Finland, Singapore or Korea, becoming a teacher is highly competitive. For instance, entrants into teaching education programs in Korea are among the top 10 percent of high school graduates. The WB has worked with several countries to improve entrance and exit examination quality.
In the Dominican Republic, all students entering schools of education are now required to take the Orientation and Academic Measurement Test- POMA for admission to a university degree program (which between 35-40% of students pass) in addition to an admission test which measures Spanish language proficiency and mathematics (which is passed by only 16% of those who pass the POMA).
In Mauritania, the Bank is modifying the recruitment of teachers into the civil service from automatic recruitment upon entering teacher training institutions towards a more academically-oriented and gender-sensitive selection process upon entry to the teacher training institutes, and a motivating teacher recruitment process upon graduation of teacher training institutes.
Strengthened links to higher education institutions: In places like Shanghai (China), the Normal University prepares 60-70 percent of teachers. This leads to a curriculum that is informed by the latest research and grants pre-service education a status similar to other undergraduate programs.
In West Bank and Gaza, the Bank has supported the reform of the pre-service system to engage universities in redeveloping the curriculum to foster the use of pedagogic content knowledge, which involves the study of subject-matter content and its interaction with pedagogy.
In Lao PDR, the Bank is supporting the strengthening of the Teacher Training Colleges as professional development centers by creating standards for trainers and providing professional development on effective pedagogical practices to help the trainers meet those standards.
Providing trainees with practical training: Successful pre-service education programs have a strong practicum component that allows those preparing to become teachers to learn to apply pedagogical skills, gain in-classroom management skills, and improve based on real-life feedback. In Finland, Korea and Shanghai, a rigorous classroom-based training is followed by a practicum component of at least six-months of classroom teaching before graduating to become teachers.
In Dominican Republic, the Bank supported the government in significantly shifting teacher training going from three years of training with classes once a week, to a minimum of four days of face-to-face training per week, including practice in schools as part of the training curriculum.
A similar increase in the length of the practicum component was supported by the Bank in Mauritania.
In Ethiopia and Zambia, the WB strengthened links of pre-service program with practice school partners.
Principle 3: Manage Teachers
This principle prioritizes improving the quality of the teaching force. The Bank supports countries in:
Promoting meritocratic selection of teachers, followed by a probationary period, to improve the quality of the teaching force: In many education systems, teacher selection is non-meritocratic and often used as a political tool. On the other hand, predicting who would be a good teacher based on background characteristics effectiveness is difficult. As a result, probationary periods are crucial. And even after probatory periods, education systems must be able to promote teachers based on merit and dismiss those that fail to improve after providing support.
In Ecuador, Pakistan, the Dominican Republic, and others, the Bank worked with governments to create rigorous, competitive, meritocratic teacher selection systems into public schools.
In Mauritania, through a combination of a DPO that supports the regulatory framework and an IPF that supports implementation, the WB is supporting the design and implementation of teacher assessments to identify areas where teachers need training and to take underperforming teachers that do not improve out of classrooms into administrative positions
Improving teacher allocation: Effective teaching requires reasonably sized classes. Classes that have more than 50 students per teacher are associated with lower reading scores in multiple countries of SSA (Bashir et al, 2018). Despite this, given regional differences in living standards, teachers often concentrated in cities and more well-off areas resulting in profound learning inequality. The Bank is supporting multiple countries counter this problem using data-driven decision-making.
The Bank worked with the government of Malawi in building an updated, accurate and comprehensive database of teachers and their postings, identifying and analyzing the factors driving teacher allocation (e.g. road access to schools, electricity, distance to nearest trading center), and developing a school categorization that drove policy reforms to reduce disparities without added cost: new teachers are targeted to hardship schools, and the 20 percent of teachers working on the most remote schools receive a meaningful bonus (roughly one third of an average salary).
Similar data-driven reforms are being carried out in Mozambique, Guinea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Ghana.
In Lao PDR, the Bank is financing an incentive scheme that provides district that take actions to improve teacher allocation and reduce shortages with additional resources for improved technological facilities and better training.
Building monitoring and feedback systems: Governments cannot manage the teacher force and make evidence-based decisions without a solid understanding of what is going on inside the classroom. Successful system not just diagnose the problem but create feedback loops, allowing governments to take corrective actions, from providing additional support to teachers, to make decisions on promotion or discussing alternative career paths.
In Peru, the Bank supported the Ministry of Education in increasing their capacity to evaluate instructional practices (which has resulted in four national studies of classroom instructional practices), and the design, piloting and implementation of instruments for teacher recruitment and merit-based promotion resulting in the hiring of 19,069 teachers and the promotion of 49,763.
In Ghana, the Bank is financing the development and implementation of an accountability dashboard which will bring together data on learning outcomes, teacher attendance and student-teacher interactions, and will provide targeted support for low performing schools.
In Ceara (Brazil), biannual student assessments are analyzed with teachers so that they understand how students perform on each topic and develop strategies to strengthen student’s weaknesses.
Due to the strong demand from countries, the Bank has developed several Global Public Goods that facilitate governments’ task of diagnosing the situation of the teaching profession and building feedback loops for its improvement. In 2019, the WB launched a free classroom observation tool called Teach that measures the quality of teaching practices of primary school teachers in low-and-middle-income countries. To date, Teach has been applied in over 30 countries, has been integrated into 12 WBG operations, and is available in over ten languages. For example, as part of the WB support to Punjab, Pakistan, Teach tool is now being used by mentors as a diagnostic to observe and provide feedback to 15,000 teachers per week. Mentors input Teach scores into a smartphone app that stores and aggregates the data, making it available to policymakers. This data not only guides the mentor in providing feedback, but it also helps policymakers understand the quality of teaching in real-time.
The Bank also developed the Global Education Policy Dashboard (to be launched soon) which offers timely, cost-effective, comprehensive, and contextualized information to shine a light on learning levels and the main determinants of learning outcomes. Among these determinants are the teaching characteristics at the service delivery level, involving teachers’ presence, content knowledge and pedagogical skills, as well as the policy frameworks that relate to these teacher characteristics. This GPG, which provides a full picture of how the system is working, has been implemented in Peru, Rwanda and Jordan and has been very well received by partners and country counterparts.
Principle 4: Provide High-Quality Professional Development
This principle prioritizes continuously upgrading teachers’ and school leaders’ skills to improve students’ learning experience. To this end, the Bank has been supporting countries in:
Improve in-service teacher professional development: Effective teacher professional programs are tailor to the specific needs of the teacher, are focused, are linked to professional incentives, include practice with other teachers, and follow-up visits to teachers in their own classrooms. Unfortunately, most teacher training programs have disappointing impacts as they usually involve having teachers travel to a training center for a couple of days and receive an abstract lecture which is delinked to their weaknesses or their classroom reality. To support educational systems, improve the quality of teachers that are already in the system, the Bank is scaling up Coach, a program to reform teachers’ professional development to make it tailored, focused, practical, ongoing, and most importantly, effective. Coach will allow teachers to improve core teaching practices, including socio-emotional competencies, that are critical to improve student learning and will harness technological solutions.
Mozambique, DRC and Lao PDR are implementing a program drawing on technical guidance and resources from the Coach initiative.
In the Edo State in Nigeria, as part of a larger education program which includes provision of textbooks, enhanced community participation and pre-service reform, the Bank supported the EdoBest program which used technology to deliver scripted lesson plans to teachers, track teacher attendance and use of lessons, and provide timely feedback to improve teaching.
In West Bank and Gaza, the WB also supported the improvement of in-service teacher training, with a program that lasted a full year in which university trainers led face-to-face workshops followed by learning circles facilitated by university trainers where teachers worked in groups, presented assigned tasks, commented on each other’s work, designing lesson plans, teaching resources, games and other teacher strategies, among others.
The Bank is also working with governments of Niger, Tuvalu and Sierra Leone in the provision of local and individualized coaching and mentoring to upgrade the content knowledge and pedagogical practices of teachers
Supporting teachers with detailed lesson plans: In cases where teachers lack content knowledge and pedagogical ability, highly structured lesson plans -along with training on how to use them- lead to learning gains equivalent to an additional half year of learning. As a GPG, the Bank is also developing and delivering a Compendium of Structured Lesson Plans and Tools for Improvement of Early Grade Reading Instruction, which explicitly consider that learning how to read continues at home.
In Madagascar, Nigeria, Tonga, Tuvalu, the Bank has supported the provision of structured teacher guides which guide teacher’s instruction of basic skills.
As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bank is working with the governments of Mozambique and Angola on the use of teacher guides to recover learning losses and accelerate learning.
In Pakistan, the Bank will support guided practice for teachers to use distance-learning audio instruction.
In Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Vietnam, the Bank is supporting practical teacher training on digital skills, the provision of psychosocial support, and accelerated learning (teaching strategies to complete a school year in less time).
Improving school leaders selection and professional development: Across countries, better school management is associated with better student learning. In fact, after teachers, principals are usually considered the second most important school input to student learning. Effective systems have principals that are both administrative and instructional leaders. Thus, in successful systems, principals are hired based on merit and receive professional development on instructional leadership.
The Bank has also supported country-level work such as the establishment of career ladders for principals and the development of a new principal training program based on specific competencies and aligned with broader efforts to strengthen system managers at all levels in the Dominican Republic.
In Argentina, Mexico, and Paraguay, among others, the Bank has supported a shift in the role of school principals to become instructional leaders.
In Tolima (Mexico) the Bank supported the Programa de Atención Específica para la Mejora del Logro Educativo (PAE). Under PAE, low-stakes student testing was carried out. Schools with the lowest test scores in the national assessment were selected to receive three visits from a technical adviser. The advisors trained principals on identifying students’ strengths and weakness based on the test score results, on supporting teachers understand and use this information to improve their teaching, and on setting clear goals regarding learning outcomes. The intervention increased test scores by 0.12 SD only a few months after program launch and the effect remained two years after program implementation. Even stronger results were found in the province of La Rioja in Argentina.
Principle 5: Use Technology Wisely
This principle prioritizes integrating technology to enhance countries’ ability to support teachers become more effective. To this end, and aside the support on the effective uses of technology already highlighted above, the Bank has been supporting countries in:
Facilitate the process of tailoring instruction to student’s needs: Given the unequal access to remote learning, teachers will have to identify where each student is in terms of learning and teach each child at the right level, giving each student the task he or she needs to master next to keep learning (e.g., students struggling with letter sounds should work on mastering them before moving to reading words, as has been done in India, Ghana, and Zambia).
In the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Guyana, we are supporting computer-assisted learning technology to help teachers to tailor instruction to students’ learning needs.
In Turkey, technology is being used to enable teachers to deliver individualized instruction and to deliver practical blended training of teachers at scale.
Reform professional development to be flexible, short and blended: Just as student’s learning should cater their needs, teachers’ professional development should be tailored to the specific needs of teachers and be available at convenient times for teachers. Technology enables this.
In Sierra Leone, the Bank is supporting the piloting of a technology-enabled teacher training program, where solar-powered tablets will be preloaded with teacher training contents (e.g. videos teaching of hard-to-teach topics) which can be accessed by teachers in that school.
Improve management of the teaching force: Technology can be used to enable better management of teachers, improving both their welfare and performance. For instance, many teachers suffer as a result of poorly-functioning systems to pay the salaries they are due, especially in rural areas.