Table of Contents

  • Teachers and school leaders are being challenged to transform educational outcomes, often under difficult conditions. They are being asked to equip students with the competencies they need to become active citizens and workers in the 21st century. They need to personalize learning experiences to ensure that every student has a chance to succeed and to deal with increasing cultural diversity in their classrooms and differences in learning styles. They also need to keep up with innovations in curricula, pedagogy and the development of digital resources.

  • The first International Summit on the Teaching Profession brought together education ministers, union leaders and other teacher leaders from highperforming and rapidly improving education systems to review how best to improve teacher quality and the quality of teaching and learning. This publication brings together evidence that underpinned the Summit considering four interconnected themes: how teachers are recruited into the profession and trained initially; how teachers are developed in service and supported; how teachers are evaluated and compensated; and how teachers are engaged in reform. It also underlines the importance of developing a positive role for teachers in educational change and how a collaborative model of educational reform can be highly effective.

  • Education systems face a demanding challenge in recruiting high-quality graduates as teachers, particularly in shortage areas. At the Summit, Brazil and China reported how they are wrestling with getting good teachers into their vast rural areas; Japan and several other countries reported on planning for large-scale imminent retirements; the United States expressed concerns about high attrition rates, with teachers simply leaving the profession; the Netherlands reported on how decisions on class-size reductions had increased the demand for teachers and Belgium noted that the teaching force does not reflect the increasing diversity of the population.

  • Education is still far from being a knowledge industry, in the sense that its own practices are being continuously transformed by greater understanding of their efficacy. While in many other fields, people enter their professional lives expecting that what they do and how they do it will be transformed by evidence and research, this is still not generally the case in education. Transforming teaching does not just involve high quality recruiting and initial education; it also requires that those who are now teaching adapt to constantly changing demands. In some countries, this is also a massive quantitative challenge: China alone has 12 million teachers, many of whom are in rural areas and in need of significant upgrading of their skills to cope with rapidly changing demands on schools.

  • Teacher evaluation is essential for improving the individual performance of teachers and the collective performance of education systems. Designing teacher-appraisal methods is not easy, and requires the objectives of accountability and improvement to be carefully balanced. A crucial feature is what criteria teachers are appraised against, including, but not limited to, student performance. Also important are the degree to which teachers improve their professional skills and, crucially, the part they play in improving the school and system as a whole. In this way, evaluation and appraisal need to be well aligned with the process of system change. However, it is not enough to appraise the right things; the ways in which appraisal is followed through will determine its impact. At present, many teachers feel that appraisal has no or little consequence. School leaders need to become more skilled at using it intelligently, and evaluation needs to be more closely connected with career development and diversity. A specific issue is the extent and style of links between assessed performance, career advancement, and compensation. Whatever system is chosen, it must be well understood and transparently applied.

  • Learning outcomes at school are the result of what happens in classrooms, thus only reforms that are successfully implemented in classrooms can be expected to be effective. One of the key conclusions of the Summit was that teacher engagement in the development and implementation of educational reform is crucial and school reform will not work unless it is supported from the bottom up. This requires those responsible for change to both communicate their aims well and involve the stakeholders who are affected. But it also requires teachers to contribute as the architects of change, not just its implementers. Some of the most successful reforms are those supported by strong unions rather than those that keep the union role weak.

  • This publication has underlined the importance of developing a central role for teachers in educational change. Successful countries have shown how a teaching profession that assumes a high level of responsibility and is well rewarded can attract some of the best graduates into a teaching career. Indeed, a striking contrast between the teaching profession in different countries is its status and the caliber of its recruits. Dramatically increasing the quality and prestige of a nation’s teaching corps is far from easy and cannot be done overnight. However, the many examples of reforms in this publication that have produced specific results, shown promise or that have illustrated imaginative ways of implementing change, show that the challenges can be successfully addressed. They include measures at the recruitment stage, but more importantly involve transforming the teaching profession from within. Highly qualified graduates are unlikely to be attracted to teaching if they see an existing teaching corps with low skill levels that are not trusted to act as professionals.