copy the linklink copied!Executive summary

Georgia has seen tremendous recent improvement in educational outcomes. From 2009 to 2015, 15-year-old students in Georgia have improved their learning in reading, mathematics and science by roughly a full grade level. However, Georgia’s progress has not been equitable across all population groups. Urban students outperform rural ones; socio-economically advantaged students outperform their disadvantaged peers; and students who speak Georgian at home outperform those who do not. Worryingly, these gaps in performance have widened from 2009 to 2015.

To improve educational equity in addition to excellence, it will be critical for Georgia to develop educational evaluation and assessments systems that can detect areas of inequity and address them before they become entrenched. This report looks at the design and implementation of policies related to student assessment, teacher appraisal, and school and system evaluation in Georgia and makes suggestions about how they can used enhance student learning. In particular, student assessment can more accurately identifying student performance; teachers can be trained to give students better support; schools can be given more oversight and resources to help them succeed; and the system as a whole can develop the research capacity and data tools needed to facilitate improved learning for all students in the country.

copy the linklink copied!Improving learning outcomes and equity through student assessment

The primary purposes of student assessment are to determine what students know and are capable of doing, help them advance in their learning and take an informed decision on the next step in their education. In Georgia, despite several efforts from the government, the concept of assessment is widely understood as giving summative marks to students in order to judge their performance, a fact that is reflected teachers’ classroom assessment practices, which are primarily summative. Adding to the assessment pressure that students and teachers feel is Georgia’s examinations system, which, until recently, required students to take more than 12 subject tests over two grades at the end of upper secondary education in order to graduate and attend university.

Georgia can strengthen its student assessment system so it provides greater educational value. Formative assessment should be practiced more readily in classrooms so assessment is used to support student learning. The examinations system should also be reviewed to create a more positive backwash on learning and more accurately assess students in the most important academic areas. Finally, the assessment literacy of students, parents and teachers needs to be developed to help embed reforms and improve national understanding that assessment if not just of learning, but for learning.

copy the linklink copied!Creating a highly qualified and motivated teaching workforce

Teacher appraisal can be a strong lever for modernising and improving teaching and learning. Georgia recognises the importance of appraisal for strengthening teaching, as reflected in the recently introduced certification requirements and performance career scheme. However, these changes have so far had little impact in terms of professionalising teaching or encouraging teachers to adopt newer, more effective teaching techniques.

The lack of impact reflects the fact that moving up the career path is contingent on acquiring credits and not necessarily on demonstrating effective teaching. Other factors the lack of mandatory professional development, low entrance requirements into initial teacher education programmes and the oldest teaching population out of any country that participated in TALIS 2018.

Georgia should revise its professional career scheme to reward high quality teaching and develop the necessary in-service training opportunities to help teachers improve their skills. Georgia can improve the quality of incoming teachers by strengthening its initial teacher education programmes and raising the requirements for entry into the programmes. Finally, Georgia will need to take measures to make space for and attract talented new teachers into the workforce. These measures include establishing a retirement age for teachers and actively recruiting new teachers to fill high need subjects and teach in difficult to staff areas of the country.

copy the linklink copied!Assuring quality schooling through external evaluation and school-led improvements

Compared to international benchmarks, schools in Georgia now have significant autonomy for assessment, curriculum, human resourcing and financial management (OECD, 2016[1]). The autonomy afforded to schools, however, has not been balanced is supposed to be by accountability and oversight mechanisms. This situation is problematic because many schools could be struggling but there are no measures to identify them and help them improve.

To assure quality of schooling, Georgia is planning to extend its authorisation model to all schools. However, because the country lacks the resources to visit all its schools in the short term, Georgia should develop a risk assessment model to identify those schools in greatest need of improvement and target them to be supported first. In the long term, Georgia’s school authorisation can be further developed into a comprehensive school evaluation model, which would require that significant school-improvement expertise be built within NCEQE. School self-evaluation could be an effective method of assuring school quality in the meantime. For this to occur, however, the extant self-evaluation process will have to be made more meaningful because most schools currently view self-evaluation as a compliance exercise rather than a way to improve themselves.

copy the linklink copied!Strengthening system processes to evaluate national education performance

Evaluating an education system holds the government and other stakeholders accountable for meeting national goals and provides the information needed to develop effective policies. In Georgia, system evaluation has seen significant development over recent years, especially in the areas of data collection and management.

Despite these advancements, however, some elements of system evaluation are still lacking. In particular, Georgia does not have a strong culture of using evidence to inform policy-making, partly because there are few tools that can help persons analyse the rich data that are centrally collected. In a context where educational inequity is worsening, it is problematic that these processes, which would help to systematically identify and address equity gaps, are not in place.

Georgia should create a research and evaluation unit whose explicit purpose is to analyse data and embed the use of evidence in decision-making. More data analysis tools need to be created to aid stakeholders at all levels in making sense of the available data, such analytical functions built into the E-School platform and a digital monitoring dashboard. Finally, Georgia should develop a national assessment strategy so external measures of student learning can be continuously collected and used to help guide school-level instruction and system-level strategic planning.

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