3. Empowering teachers to improve their practice

Effective teacher appraisal is central to the continuous improvement of schooling. By setting high standards for teaching quality, providing regular feedback to teachers and rewarding strong performance, an effective appraisal system can enable and encourage teachers to improve their practice throughout their career. In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), competent education authorities are beginning to promote the more student-centred approaches to teaching and learning that are becoming increasingly common across OECD countries. However, teaching practice has been slow to change, largely because there is a lack of supports and incentive structures that would encourage the adoption of these new approaches. Resource and capacity limitations further exacerbate reform efforts.

This chapter proposes how competent education authorities could make use of new teacher appraisal procedures and learning opportunities to help transform teaching practice in BiH, notably, by reinforcing clear expectations for the role of the teacher under a more student-centred approach, establishing feedback loops that reward performance, and supporting teachers’ continuous improvement. Specifically, competent education authorities should introduce new formative appraisal processes that are based on professional standards, including teacher self-evaluations and regular, low-stakes appraisals of teachers’ work. Common occupational standards for teachers in general education already exist, and some competent education authorities are developing their own, but these are not yet widely in use. BiH should also explore how to harness digital technologies and opportunities for collaborative learning within schools to provide teachers with cost-effective, meaningful professional development opportunities. To ensure that effective teaching is recognised and rewarded, competent education authorities in BiH should also introduce revised appraisal for promotion procedures. At present, most of the administrative units in this review are not making career advancement decisions in ways that motivate excellent teaching. Finally, BiH should strengthen the accreditation and design of initial teacher education programmes, to ensure that new teachers are well prepared to meet the needs of their students.

Policies related to the teaching profession in BiH are under the responsibility of competent education authorities in Republika Srpska, the cantons in the Federation of BiH, and Brčko District. Some jurisdictions covered in this review have identified goals for improving the quality of instruction and adopting more competence-based approaches to teaching and learning, in line with the state-level Common Core Curriculum Based on Learning Outcomes. While competent education authorities see a clear need for ongoing professional learning opportunities to develop teachers’ practices, they face resource constraints that often limit their ability to provide systematic training. At the same time, most of the competent education authorities are not advancing teachers along established career paths based on their performance. As a result, compared to many OECD countries, teachers in BiH have fewer opportunities and incentives to improve their teaching methods.

Over the past ten years, the number of teachers in BiH has increased and its teaching population is now younger than the average across the EU (Figure 3.1). Over the same time period, the number of students has decreased, partly because of emigration and low birth rates (see Chapter 1). For example, the number of full-time equivalent teachers in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) grew by 4% at the primary level and 25% at the secondary level between 2009 and 2018, despite a 23% and 14% decrease in students for each respective education level (World Bank, 2019[1]). Teacher student ratios have also been below EU averages in parts of BiH, notably in many FBiH cantons at the primary level, while schools in larger urban areas sometimes operate in dual shifts to accommodate a large number of students (World Bank, 2019[1]). This indicates that there are mismatches in teacher supply and demand. However, unlike many European countries, competent education authorities in BiH do not conduct systematic forward planning exercises to manage the teaching workforce more efficiently (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[2]).

The majority of teachers in BiH work in public schools and a significant proportion are employed part-time. State-level data reveals that across BiH, 35% of primary school teachers and 29% of secondary teachers worked under part-time contracts in the school year 2020/21 (Agency of Statistics for BiH, 2021[4]). This trend appears to also follow in available disaggregated data – in Republika Srpska, for instance, 31.7% of primary school teachers and 38.7% of secondary school teachers worked under part-time contracts in the school year 2020/21 (RZS, n.d.[5]). Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that, among teachers working in schools attended by 15-year-olds, some 16% of teachers have part-time contracts in BiH, which is similar to the average in Serbia (17%), but much higher than in other Western Balkan economies, including Albania (3%) and Montenegro (6%) (OECD, 2020[6]). Importantly, this data does not distinguish between voluntary (i.e. based on teachers’ preference) or involuntary (i.e. caused by the absence of full-time opportunities) part-time work, which can have important implications for staff well-being and satisfaction (OECD, 2019[7]). However, recent studies have found that many teachers in BiH contract with multiple schools in order to attain a full-time equivalent workload (World Bank, 2019[1]), suggesting that a large share of part-time contracts are involuntary.

Teachers in BiH (25%) are also more likely to work under temporary employment contracts compared to the EU average (20%) (Agency of Statistics for BiH, 2021[4]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). While the use of temporary contracts can help ensure flexibility in staffing, especially in decentralised education systems, balance in the use of contract types is important, in part, because employment and working conditions can affect educational quality (OECD, 2019[7]). The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) has found, for instance, that part-time teachers are less likely to participate in continuous professional development and professional collaboration (OECD, 2020[9]). Moreover, working under temporary and part-time contracts is often linked to feelings of lower self-efficacy among teachers, which has a strong (negative) association with the quality of teaching practice (OECD, 2019[10]; OECD, 2020[9]). Addressing teacher employment conditions is therefore an important part of designing effective teaching and learning policies.

An increasing number of OECD countries have created differentiated teacher career paths that link higher tiers with higher salaries and additional responsibilities, such as mentoring colleagues (Santiago et al., 2013[11]). While the competent education authorities in this review have career paths for teachers, many are not promoting teachers along them in ways that motivate teachers to demonstrate high performance or develop their competences to help improve the quality of education system-wide (see Table 3.1). In three of the administrative units – the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Sarajevo Canton and West Herzegovina Canton – rulebooks setting out requirements for career advancement expired years ago. While the RS entity and Sarajevo Canton are still promoting teachers, these promotions are not systematically linked to performance but other factors, such as years of experience. In Brčko District, promotions are not being conducted due to difficulties with finding and training external appraisers. Central Bosnia Canton, by contrast, is conducting performance-based appraisals for promotion based on procedures in a new rulebook that was released in July 2021.

There is significant variation in teachers’ salaries across competent education authorities in BiH, partly because collective agreements are negotiated locally. However, teacher salaries generally compare favourably to private sector jobs within the country. The average teachers’ net monthly salary across a sample of five cantons and the RS entity, for instance, was around 25% higher than the average private sector salary in 2018 (World Bank, 2019[1]). While the potential of earning relatively high salaries may help encourage young people to join the profession, teachers in BiH have limited opportunities to increase their salaries over time. Among lower secondary teachers (primary education or ISCED 2 in BiH), those at the top of the salary scale in BiH received only 20% above the starting salary in 2018, compared to an average increase of 66% across PISA-participating countries (OECD, 2020[12]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2020[13]). This flat salary structure can be less rewarding and reduce incentives for teachers to develop their practice. At the same time, many competent education authorities offer allowances for teachers who take on additional responsibilities and work in specific conditions (e.g. remote areas, combined grades) (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2020[13]). Performance-related bonus schemes for teachers are also common in BiH. However, these opportunities are not typically linked to clear definitions of performance nor systematic appraisal procedures (World Bank, 2019[1]).

Eight public universities (six located across the FBiH entity and two in the RS entity), as well as a growing number of private higher education institutions, offer initial teacher education (ITE) in different faculties or academies. As in many EU countries, BiH offers ITE programmes that lead to either a bachelor’s or master’s degree and are either concurrent (i.e. three or four years of study that lead to a degree in teaching) or consecutive (i.e. one to two years of study after obtaining a degree in a different domain) (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). Competent education authorities have their own enrolment policies and work with providers in their jurisdiction to determine the maximum number of study places available in ITE programmes. Applicants must usually fulfil a minimum grade point average at the secondary level, including minimum grades in specific subjects, and are then selected based on a ranking exercise. However, most ITE providers do not set a high minimum grade point average, and the bar for entry has lowered over recent years, as the number of applicants has declined. The low bar for entry into ITE, in addition to a general decline in interest in joining the profession, may have a negative impact on the quality of teaching in the future.

Initial teacher preparation in BiH differs significantly across programmes because each provider determines their own curriculum (USAID, 2018[14]). However, research suggests that most ITE programmes do not sufficiently cover pedagogy, psychology and didactics in their curricula, and often teach outdated teaching methods (CPU, 2015, in (USAID, 2018[14]). The duration of professional training (i.e. theoretical and practical preparation for teaching) within BiH programmes is short by European standards: 30European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits compared to an EU average of 60 ECTS for lower secondary teaching programmes (primary education or ISCED 2 in BiH) in 2019/20 (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). Positively, most ITE programmes in BiH include a practicum, which is an essential part of teacher preparation in OECD and European countries. However, unlike these countries, competent education authorities in BiH do not always regulate a minimum practicum length (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). Such variety in practicum duration risks leaving some teachers unprepared to work in the classroom. Furthermore, online delivery of ITE programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted practicum placements in BiH, raising concerns about the quality of the initial education of teachers during that period.

The Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HEA), a state-level body, has been responsible for making recommendations to competent education authorities regarding the accreditation of public and private tertiary institutions, as well as their individual programmes (upon request) since 2013. Cantons and entities have authority over the procedures and decisions on the accreditation and licensing of higher education institutions. To date, the state-level HEA recommended the accreditation of thirteen institutions in BiH, including all eight of the public ITE providers. However, few institutions have sought accreditation for their specific programmes, and none has accredited ITE programmes. Unlike an increasing number of OECD countries, at the state level, BiH uses general criteria to review individual tertiary programmes for accreditation, and therefore does not have criteria specific to teacher preparation. Without specific criteria, it can be hard to ensure that ITE programmes sufficiently prepare tertiary students to join the teaching profession (OECD, 2020[15]). There are also concerns around the integrity of BiH’s higher education sector; especially the quality of private providers and their initial teacher education programmes (see Chapter 1).

Vocational education and training (VET) teachers comprise a significant proportion of the teaching population in BiH, which is unsurprising given the high number of upper secondary students (ISCED 3 in BiH) who attend technical and vocational schools (77% as of 2019) (OECD, 2021[16]). There are indications that VET teachers’ initial preparation and continuous professional learning are not sufficient. VET teachers who have not previously studied to become teachers are generally required to complete tertiary courses in pedagogy, psychology, didactics and methodology, as well as complete an internship in a school, and pass the professional exam. A small 2015 study found that some VET teachers had only taken the professional exam (USAID, 2018[14]). Furthermore, few VET teachers in BiH have access to continuous professional development opportunities, primarily because pedagogical institutes and education ministries lack staff with specialised expertise in pedagogy for VET-related subjects (ibid). It will be difficult for BiH to improve teaching quality in VET schools if these teachers do not receive sufficient preparation and ongoing training.

Similar to many EU countries, competent education authorities in BiH have made ongoing training part of a teacher’s professional duty (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). Competent education authorities in BiH set their own requirements for participation in continuous professional development. Several FBiH cantons mandate a minimum of 12 hours of continuous professional development for teachers per year, which is similar to or greater than requirements in neighbouring countries. For example, teachers in Albania must complete six hours of professional development per year, while teachers in Montenegro must complete 24 hours within a five-year cycle (i.e. roughly five hours per year) (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). Despite requirements, participation rates in continuous professional development have generally been low in BiH. For example, PISA 2018 results indicate that on average, the country’s lower secondary teachers (primary education or ISCED 2 in BiH) participated in less training than teachers in OECD and other Western Balkan economies (OECD, 2019[17]) (see Figure 3.2).

Teachers are reportedly not motivated to engage in continuous professional development in BiH because available training lacks relevance to their work, is often of low quality and has limited benefits for career progression. BiH’s ability to address these concerns is hindered by resource constraints. Within each canton or entity, the institution responsible for organising or delivering professional development often lacks the resources to deliver quality, relevant training (USAID, 2018[14]). At the country-level, the Agency for Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (APOSO) provides e-learning opportunities and some resources on instruction for teachers, but this body does not have a mandate to train teachers, and it also lacks funding. These resource limitations mean that BiH often relies on international and domestic development partners to deliver professional development for teachers. However, this model raises efficiency and sustainability concerns and does not guarantee that teachers’ learning needs will be addressed, especially in priority areas such as inclusive education and using information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom (Čelebičić and Jovanović, 2021[18]).

One-off seminars or lectures are common forms of training for teachers in BiH. However, research suggests that collaborative, job-embedded learning is a more effective way to improve teachers’ competence (Schleicher, 2011[19]). This type of school-based professional learning is not prevalent in most of the jurisdictions covered in this review. While teacher groups exist in some or all schools, depending on the administrative unit, expectations for collaborative work and learning are often minimal or non-existent. For example, in some administrative units , teachers are only required to conduct one demonstration lesson per year and they do not engage in ongoing learning activities with their colleagues. An exception is Central Bosnia Canton, where teachers are obligated to devote one hour of a 40-hour work week to working with professional bodies within their school, such as class councils (MESCS of the Central Bosnia Canton, 2002[20]; MESCS of the Central Bosnia Canton, 2002[21]). These school-based learning activities reportedly include observing classes, organising workshops, and providing support to colleagues.

Each of the five competent education authorities covered in this review has established pedagogues (and, in some cases, other expert associates, such as psychologists, social workers, or speech therapists) who work in schools to support teachers, parents and students in raising educational outcomes. However, their work does not always align with their defined responsibilities. For example, school staff in BiH reported to the review team that a pedagogue’s time is often spent on administrative duties, such as filling out reports, and diverted away from helping to improve teaching and learning.

Competent education authorities in this review have developed appraisal procedures that apply to both candidates seeking entry into the teaching profession as well as qualified teachers already employed in schools. However, at present, most entity, canton and district authorities do not carry out appraisal for qualified teachers in a way that supports and motivates their professional development. Specifically, many education systems in BiH have stopped implementing teacher appraisals for career advancement while they develop new appraisal procedures or deal with challenges that are impeding the implementation of existing procedures. Most competent education authorities also lack procedures for low-stakes appraisal, which is meant to give teachers regular and formative feedback to improve their practice rather than being linked to career advancement.

The five competent education authorities covered in this review are not yet making use of teacher standards to set out clear expectations for the role of teachers. Commonly in OECD countries, standards are used to shape teachers’ development by informing the design and accreditation of teacher training programmes, shaping requirements for certification, determining criteria for appraisal and self-evaluation, and defining a performance-based career path. In 2016/17, BiH released common Occupational standards for teachers in general education (hereafter the occupational standards) as part of an EU-funded project, Development of a Qualifications Framework for General Education. The drafting team included representatives of state-level bodies, as well as all cantons, entities and Brčko District (British Council, WYG and GIZ, 2017[23]). The standards were based on EU best practices and covered domains that research recognises as important for quality teaching, including planning and programming; learning and teaching; monitoring and assessment; creating an environment conducive to learning; co-operating with family and community; professional development; and participation in the work and development of the school and education system (ibid). The standards encouraged teachers to work towards implementing the Common Core Curriculum Based on Learning Outcomes (see Chapter 1), which describes the student-centred approaches that teachers should use and competences they should help their students develop (see Table 3.3).

Despite these efforts, the common occupational standards are not widely in use across BiH. Previously, RS, Brčko District and Sarajevo Canton used them as criteria for promotion appraisal. However, they have since discontinued this practice. Some competent education authorities recently drafted their own teacher standards or announced plans to use the common occupational standards. For example, West Herzegovina Canton is developing a rulebook on the evaluation of the work of teachers based on these standards. However, education authorities also reported that teacher standards could not be implemented locally until they amend existing legislation or develop new rulebooks, which can take time. Without clear and operational teacher standards, competent education authorities are missing a key tool to raise teaching quality in BiH and help steer innovation in teaching practices.

Competent education authorities in BiH determine the requirements for initial teacher qualification. These include completion of a teaching degree at undergraduate level. This is followed by an internship for newly employed teachers that lasts either six months (e.g. in Brčko District) or more commonly, one year (in RS and the three cantons covered in this review). Teacher candidates must then pass a professional examination. These requirements are broadly similar to those found across the OECD and the EU. However, the requirements for qualification across entities and cantons in BiH do not provide the consistent quality assurance that they do in many other countries. For example, competent education authorities do not base their requirements on teacher standards to help ensure that prospective teachers have the competences needed at the start of their careers, including knowledge of modern teaching approaches. The internship also lacks rigour and clarity. Specifically, the mentors of trainee teachers lack clear guidance for their role (World Bank, 2021[24]). As a result, novice teachers in BiH may not be adequately supported at the start of their careers.

School commissions commonly conduct teacher recruitment processes in BiH, sometimes with the involvement of the competent education authority and local government, as in Brčko District. Recruitment criteria are set out in ordinances, and, in practice, this process is not always based on factors related to teaching competence. For example, in Sarajevo Canton, candidates receive points for the number of years spent unemployed, which may give them a hiring advantage over those with more teaching experience (World Bank, 2019[1]). In addition, recruitment procedures do not support teacher mobility, which may become more of an issue should particular regions face a higher demand for teachers. In the FBiH, for instance, certain cantons require more credits than others for the same teaching position, with requirements ranging from 180, 240 or 320 ECTS, depending on where the position is located (World Bank, 2021[24]). At the same time, competent education authorities do not have mandatory, structured probation appraisals for fully qualified teachers, which could help to ensure that only the most competent teachers are employed in schools. This lack of appraisal is particularly problematic given integrity concerns in the education sector – in particular, that procedures to recruit school staff may be vulnerable to corrupt practices (Chapter 1).

Historically, competent education authorities in BiH used the regular appraisal of teachers’ work for career advancement. By contrast, OECD countries use regular appraisal formatively, to provide essential feedback on the competences teachers have obtained and those they need to further develop (OECD, 2013[25]). Such practices can help teachers reflect on their teaching and encourage them to take ownership of their professional development. Importantly, regular appraisals do not typically have high stakes for a teacher’s career. Brčko District is the only competent education authority in this review that still has an appraisal process in place for purposes other than career advancement. However, this process is primarily administrative rather than formative, and it does not take place regularly. Principals in Brčko District are required to supervise and evaluate teachers annually against four criteria, but legislation does not set out how they should conduct the process or use the results, other than for teachers’ personal records. Some competent education authorities, like West Herzegovina Canton, also plan to set out requirements for teachers to conduct self-evaluations, which have formative potential.

In the past, the competent education authorities covered in this review conducted teacher appraisals to determine promotions annually or once every two years as set out in their respective rulebooks or legislation. Central Bosnia Canton is the only competent education authority that is conducting appraisals for promotion based on teachers’ performance, including evidence of their direct educational work with students, extra-curricular professional work, and professional development. Past appraisal for promotion processes in some parts of BiH appear to have lacked the reliability and objectivity needed to ensure credible judgements of teachers’ performance. This is particularly important given the high stakes nature of these appraisals for teachers’ careers and broader integrity concerns within the BiH education sector (see Chapter 1). For instance, while some competent education authorities used the common Occupational standards for teachers in general education to evaluate teachers, others used appraisal criteria that were narrower, meaning that they may not have appraised teachers against all relevant competence areas. Furthermore, in some parts of BiH, appraisers were not external to the school. OECD research recommends some element of externality to ensure the objectivity of promotion decisions (OECD, 2013[25]). Positively, appraisers typically used multiple sources of evidence for these appraisals, including classroom observations and personal files. However, since the latter primarily contained administrative information or professional development certificates, they may not have been a sufficiently robust source of evidence to evaluate the quality of teachers’ practices or their impact on students and colleagues. In many cases, this process may also have encouraged a focus on top-performing students rather than the success of all learners, by awarding more points or promoting teachers more quickly if they had students that did well in competitions.

Performance-based financial rewards for teachers exist at the school or canton/entity level in some of the administrative units in this review. For example, in Sarajevo Canton, the school board can decide to increase a teacher’s salary by up to 20% twice a year (World Bank, 2019[1]). At the same time, collective agreements or school-level regulations do not clearly define what good performance means in the context of these rewards (ibid). As a result, these rewards, as currently designed, may not consistently encourage high performance or the development of important teaching competences. In Republika Srpska, the Minister of Education and Culture offers the Saint Sava Award for excellence in teaching based on a public call for nominations. To be eligible for this award, teachers must have improved the quality of work in their school (e.g. teaching children with special education needs), contributed to teaching through research or have students with outstanding results (e.g. by winning academic competitions).

The competent education authorities in this review, as well as other stakeholders who are active in BiH’s education sector, are making efforts to improve teaching practices and student learning. Some plan to use teacher standards to set out clear expectations for teachers’ role. All competent education authorities also organise or deliver some form of training to teachers, often through their pedagogical institutes or in partnership with international NGOs. However, several challenges impede these efforts, notably resource constraints. To overcome these challenges, competent education authorities will need to become more efficient by leveraging the skills of their existing teaching populations. They should also be able to opt into support from state-level bodies or co-operate with other administrative units to make efficiency gains that will benefit teachers and students.

Competent education authorities should use teacher appraisal processes as a key developmental tool in their efforts to improve teachers’ practices. As a priority, teacher standards should serve as the basis for new developmental appraisal processes, such as teacher self-evaluation and regular appraisals that lead to feedback on teaching practices. Authorities should also use standards to increase the relevance of initial teacher education programmes and continuous professional development opportunities, which should form a continuum of meaningful learning experiences for teachers. To motivate teachers throughout their careers, competent education authorities should introduce new appraisals for promotion procedures and other measures, like scholarships for in-service teachers to continue their studies, to incentivise and reward excellent teaching.

Strengthening the quality of teachers’ work and modernising teaching practices is a key challenge for BiH. While many teachers in the country are dedicated to their profession, traditional approaches to teaching have continued to outweigh the more student-centred approaches associated with higher learning outcomes. For example, according to PISA 2018, 15-year-old students in BiH reported that their teachers were lecturing to students at higher rates than the OECD average (OECD, 2020[15]). By contrast, student-centred approaches like cognitive activation strategies (e.g. presenting problems for which there is no immediately obvious solution and helping students learn from their mistakes) are associated with higher mathematics scores in PISA (OECD, 2018[26]). Such strategies can enable teachers to identify and address the individual learning needs of their students, while also encouraging students’ self-efficacy. At the same time, stakeholders in BiH reported issues with poor conduct among certain teachers, and a lack of mechanisms to address it. Data from PISA 2018, for instance, found that principals of schools with 15-year-old students in BiH were more likely than their counterparts across OECD and EU countries to report that teacher behaviours, such as absenteeism, not being well prepared for classes, not meeting individual student needs and resisting change, hindered student learning (OECD, 2020[15]).

Changing teaching practices is challenging. It requires the consistent reinforcement of expectations for teachers’ roles, as well as relevant support. Many OECD countries set out these expectations in teacher standards, which provide a reference for teachers to reflect on their practice, identify professional development goals and serve as criteria for regular performance appraisals. Without these clear expectations and investments in relevant professional development opportunities, BiH will likely struggle to improve teaching and learning. To be effective, policies to improve teaching practices will need to be appropriate for BiH’s decentralised education system and feasible given funding constraints.

Each of the competent education authorities in this review helped to develop the Occupational standards for teachers in general education in 2016-17 and some have made efforts to implement these standards locally or draft their own set of standards. Despite this, the majority of education systems in this review do not yet have teacher standards in place, and in jurisdictions where standards do exist, they are not yet being used. Competent education authorities should proceed with adopting teacher standards to set out clear expectations for a teacher’s role. These standards should serve as the basis for teacher appraisal processes, such as self-evaluation and regular formative appraisal. This is important not only to ensure that appraisals are consistent, but also to focus appraisals on helping teachers develop their competences and orient their practices towards more student-centred approaches. While competent education authorities would be responsible for their own standards, APOSO could support their efforts, given its key role in promoting educational quality across BiH. This might require BiH to adjust APOSO’s mandate, as well as provide the agency with sufficient financial and human resources to carry out this task, alongside others recommended in this report (see, for example, Chapter 5).

As a first step, APOSO, in partnership with pedagogical institutes, should create an easily accessible online platform to house electronic copies of the Occupational standards for teachers in general education and the standards developed by different competent education authorities or pedagogical institutes. This would help to foster discussion among pedagogical institutes and ministries of education, while encouraging those who have not yet developed standards to do so. All competent education authorities that do not yet have teacher standards should either adopt the occupational standards (with any modifications they deem appropriate) or use these as guidance to develop their own local standards. The occupational standards provide a good model for competent education authorities because they cover critical domains of a teacher’s role, including teaching knowledge, pedagogical practices, and professional responsibilities and values (Centre of Study for Policies and Practices in Education (CEPPE), Chile, 2013[27]). They also describe how teachers can support students to achieve the expectations set out in the Common Core Curriculum Based on Learning Outcomes, which has been a challenge to implement in some parts of BiH (see Chapter 2). Competent education authorities should make any necessary legislative amendments or develop rulebooks that set out how teacher standards will be implemented in their entity, canton or district (e.g. as part of developmental appraisal processes).

Competent education authorities should engage practicing teachers and their unions in efforts to adopt or revise teacher standards. This is essential to ensuring that teachers “own” the standards and make use of them to inform their teaching practices (OECD, 2013[25]). Furthermore, unions have such a strong voice in some administrative units that, without their support, it is possible that new standards will not be adopted. Competent education authorities could invite teachers and union representatives to participate on teams tasked with determining whether to adopt the occupational standards (with or without modifications) or develop their own standards, as well as engage in consultations about how the standards will be used. Competent education authorities should also consult with stakeholders who are responsible for teacher development (e.g. pedagogical institutes, ITE providers, school principals) on the design and implementation of the teacher standards. This will gather a range of perspectives and help build capacity for rollout. To save on time and costs, and in light of any remaining restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, administrative units could conduct online consultations with teachers and stakeholders using webinars and social media.

In the medium- to long-term, competent education authorities should review and revise their occupational standards for teachers to make them a stronger lever to improve teaching quality. APOSO, possibly working in conjunction with BiH’s Conference of Education Ministers, could co-ordinate the review and revision of common occupational standards, if these are adopted by different administrative units. For example, the recommendations made in Chapter 5 for BiH to develop a state-level framework for education goals could inform a review of both teaching and learning standards to ensure alignment with the country’s priorities. Other revisions could better align the standards with teacher career structures in BiH. While the existing occupational standards present a general set of knowledge and skills for all teachers, they do not describe competences teachers should develop to reach higher career levels. Having differentiated standards would help motivate teachers to update their practices throughout their career, especially if used as part of a new performance-based appraisal for career advancement (see Recommendation 3.2.1). In so doing, BiH could look to countries like Australia, which has well-established differentiated teacher standards, or North Macedonia, which recently introduced them (see Box 3.4). In addition to differentiating standards for in-service teachers, BiH could also introduce “graduate” or “new teacher” competences to support improvements to the accreditation and design of ITE programmes (see Policy issue 3.3).

In the short term, competent education authorities should encourage teachers in their jurisdiction to carry out regular self-evaluations of their practice. Their purpose will be to help teachers reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and use results to inform development-focused discussions within school-based teams (see below), with their school pedagogue or with their principal. Such practices already happen in some BiH schools, but these often rely on the initiative of individual teachers and principals. As a result, self-evaluation is not systematic and teachers do not receive support to conduct this exercise, representing a missed opportunity to develop teachers’ sense of self-efficacy and empower them to take ownership of their professional development. Schools in BiH can immediately deploy self-evaluation, while waiting for more formal institutions and policies to support regular appraisal and incentivise professional development (e.g. differentiated standards aligned with a performance-based career structure).

Since APOSO already provides some online resources for teachers as part of the ERASMUS+ programme, the agency could be tasked with developing web-based tools to guide teacher self-evaluation, in co-operation with pedagogical institutes. For example, the General Teaching Council for Scotland presents self-evaluation questions that encourage teachers to think about their practices and set professional learning goals (see Box 3.1). This type of tool might be particularly helpful in BiH, since its questions need not reference specific teacher standards, which may not be the same in each of the country’s education systems. Importantly, the results of self-evaluations should not inform summative appraisals (e.g. appraisals for promotion or rewards) because teachers would have little incentive to be honest about their professional learning needs if this information could be used against them (Santiago et al., 2013[11]).

Competent education authorities should build on the practice of self-evaluation by establishing a regular, standards-based process to appraise teachers’ work. In BiH, the historically summative nature of teacher performance appraisals has not supported an authentic assessment of teachers’ strengths and weaknesses for development purposes. New performance appraisal processes should therefore be explicitly formative to help distinguish them from the previous teacher appraisals. Competent education authorities will need to consult with teachers’ unions and other key stakeholders about what this regular appraisal process should look like in their respective administrative units. The new appraisals should also take place annually, as they do in many OECD and partner economies, to ensure that teachers receive regular feedback on their performance (OECD, 2015[29]). To support the formative nature of teacher appraisals, competent education authorities should consider including the following elements, which are common in OECD countries and not costly to implement:

  • Base appraisal criteria on professional teacher standards. Teacher standards are an essential part of an effective teacher appraisal system because they provide a common reference point for both teachers and appraisers and establish clear expectations for performance and development (ibid). When possible, these standards should also help shape teacher self-evaluation.

  • Structure appraisals around regular dialogue and constructive feedback. Regular appraisal processes should include discussions between the teacher and their appraiser throughout the school year. These should address things like teachers’ self-evaluation results and their professional development goals and learning needs.

  • Use appraisers that are internal to the school. When teachers are familiar with the person conducting the appraisal process, this helps create a more informal setting and encourages open dialogue and feedback (OECD, 2013[25]). Competent education authorities should therefore use principals, pedagogues or a member of the school leadership team to conduct regular formative appraisals of teachers, rather than use appraisers who are external to the school.

  • Draw on a range of authentic and accurate evidence. Standards-based appraisal processes should draw on a range of information, including evidence from classroom observations, structured conversations, self-evaluations and portfolios. The latter should include evidence of teaching and its impact on student learning (e.g. lesson plans, teaching materials, samples of student work and assessments) and reflections on teaching practices and any challenges in relation to meeting teacher standards (Santiago and Benavides, 2009[30]; Goe, Biggers and Croft, 2012[31]).

  • Establish a standard response to underperformance. Appraisal processes need to include clear and standardised responses if they are to address low performance effectively. These responses could include developing an improvement plan that involves coaching or mentorship, followed by additional follow-up appraisals to monitor progress and eventually dismissal if a teacher consistently fails to improve their performance.

Schools will benefit from guidance on how to implement a new formative appraisal process that is meaningful for teachers. Competent education authorities should develop actionable guidelines that set out the purpose of the process and the steps involved. Additional guidance and resources would also help appraisers identify teachers’ strengths and weaknesses and direct them to relevant professional development options. For instance, competent education authorities could create a template for appraisers to benchmark teachers’ performance against each of the teacher standards and provide an explanation of their judgements. They could also develop a template for a written appraisal report designed to provide teachers with formative feedback. Alongside these resources, an online platform (see Recommendation 3.1.2) could provide resources that should be helpful to both appraisers and teachers, notably videos that model good teaching practices. Furthermore, some of the resources APOSO could develop to support implementation of new appraisal for promotion procedures would also be relevant to regular formative appraisals, such as a set of indicators and performance levels relating to teacher standards (see Recommendation 3.2.2). Principals and other school staff who will be responsible for conducting regular formative appraisals may also benefit from training on how to conduct classroom observations and provide constructive feedback on teachers’ performance. Chapter 4 recommends a new mandatory initial training programme for principals, which should cover how to conduct teacher appraisals for formative purposes.

Competent education authorities in BiH commonly help teachers improve their practice by regularly gathering information on their learning needs and organising annual workshops. While these efforts are positive, continuous professional development across the country is often insufficient to improve teaching practices to support student learning in meaningful ways. Moreover, pedagogical institutes and ministries of education frequently lack sufficient resources to provide training, and annual workshops are not always relevant. For example, some teachers told the OECD review team that training workshops usually relay information like statistics from the field, rather than provide practical professional learning opportunities. Donor agencies have stepped in to deliver teacher training in BiH; however, these actors do not have the mandate or capacity to provide long-term systemic support. There is also evidence that access to training is uneven across the country, which could further exacerbate inequities in student outcomes. For example, PISA 2018 data showed that roughly 20% more teachers from socio-economically advantaged schools had engaged in continuous professional opportunities over the past three months than those from disadvantaged schools, compared to a Western Balkan average of just under 10% (OECD, 2020[15]).

To address these challenges, BiH should make the delivery of continuous professional development for teachers more systematic, efficient and coherent. To start, resources and initiatives should be oriented around professional teacher standards. This applies to regular training seminars but also electronic resources that should be easily accessible on the websites of education authorities at the state and/or local level. Research shows that teachers are more likely to engage in their own development when they can access a range of materials and tools, because they can select the resources that are most relevant to their specific needs and contexts and deploy them for job-embedded peer learning (OECD, 2019[10]). In-school professional learning activities are also less costly than more traditional training methods that take place outside of the school, and thus can reach more teachers at lower cost (ibid).

BiH should use the Occupational standards for teachers in general education to design new digital resources and e-learning opportunities and post them on an online learning platform that all teachers can easily access. The main goal of such a platform would be to provide as many teachers as possible with relevant teaching resources at relatively low cost. The Conference of Ministers of Education could discuss how interested competent education authorities could work together to develop the platform and related resources. For example, APOSO might play a co-ordinating role since the agency’s website currently allows teachers to use to exchange training material related to the Common Core Curriculum Based on Learning Outcomes and makes ERASMUS + resources available to teachers, but it does not develop its own online learning material.

APOSO could work with competent education authorities to design the platform and standards-based learning material with input from practicing teachers. Examples of learning material could include videos showing how teachers demonstrate different student-centred teaching approaches referenced in the standards. Material that addresses how to teach effectively in a digital learning environment might also be particularly beneficial to support remote learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In designing this material, BiH could look to countries that have created similar websites, like Australia, Belgium and Bulgaria, as these countries have a range of experience in developing platforms to support effective teaching (see Box 3.2).

BiH should make much greater use of collegial, school-based continuous professional development to improve teachers’ practices. At present, this form of professional development is infrequent (Čelebičić and Jovanović, 2021[18]). For instance, PISA 2018 found that only 27% of 15-year-old students in BiH attended a school where teachers had scheduled time to share, evaluate and develop instructional materials and approaches using digital devices, which was well under the OECD average (44%) and the average across Western Balkan countries (45%) (OECD, 2020[15]). School-based teacher groups, where they exist, do not always provide spaces for regular collaborative learning. Moreover, while most schools have a pedagogue who is expected to help teachers improve their practice, stakeholders reported that pedagogues’ capacity to support teaching and learning is underutilised and that their role is not always supported.

While job-embedded learning can be an effective and low-cost method to develop teachers’ competences, teachers and schools will need support to ensure that this practice helps to improve teaching and learning. Specifically, competent education authorities and their pedagogical institutes should consider the following actions:

  • Establish teacher groups for collaborative work and learning in all schools. Competent education authorities should encourage schools to organise these groups according to teachers’ shared subject or grade level so that they can help improve “the content that teachers teach” (Darling-Hammond, Hyler and Gardner, 2017[37]), as well as develop more consistent student assessment practices (see Chapter 2). Entity, canton and district authorities may need to introduce regulations to establish these groups as professional learning communities that regularly conduct the types of collaborative, active learning activities that research identifies as characteristic of effective professional development. These include modelling effective practices, coaching, providing feedback and encouraging teachers to reflect on their work (ibid). For example, classroom observations, discussions about practice and challenges, and joint preparation of instructional material are commonly reported collaborative activities in European countries (European Commission, 2015[38]). Competent education authorities could look at examples from the Netherlands and Albania to inform the work of their own school-based teacher groups (see Box 3.3).

  • Provide external support for the work of school-based teacher groups. APOSO and interested competent education authorities could develop material to support peer learning at the school level, which would be shared via the online learning platform recommended above. This would be a cost-effective way to provide support and could include descriptions of how to conduct effective classroom observations and other peer learning activities. Pedagogical institutes with sufficient resources might also use train-the-trainer methods to provide face-to-face training and coaching to prepare one member of each school group, who could then lead peer-learning activities. The Ministry of Education in Georgia used this method to train facilitators in primary schools, who then co-ordinated teacher learning circles as part of the 2011-2017 USAID Georgia Primary Education Project (G-PriEd) (OECD, 2019[39]).

  • Build collaborative work and professional learning time into teachers’ statutory worktime. Competent education authorities should establish weekly schedules for teachers that allot time to participate in group meetings and collaborative learning activities (OECD, 2016[40]). While a number of competent education authorities in this review identify professional development and/or work with class councils as teachers’ regular obligations, they do not always specify that at least some of the professional development should be collaborative or attach a time commitment to collaborative work and learning. Without this time allotment, it will likely be difficult for teachers to engage in these activities. Indeed, teachers in some administrative units told the OECD review team that they were, at best, sporadic. Competent education authorities should also ensure that the significant number of part-time teachers employed in BiH schools are included in these learning activities, which might require establishing clear worktime and duties for part-time teachers in jurisdictions that lack regulation on this topic.

  • Empower pedagogues to support job-embedded peer learning. Competent education authorities should ensure that school pedagogues have the time to conduct pedagogical-advisory work with teachers. Rulebooks commonly identify this as one of their main weekly duties, but in practice, pedagogues’ administrative tasks reportedly take up much of their time. Competent education authorities should encourage schools to review pedagogues’ administrative workloads to identify tasks that could be eliminated or re-assigned. Furthermore, they should provide more specific guidance around the pedagogical-advisory work that pedagogues should undertake in schools to support the professional learning of individual teachers and teacher groups. For example, they could specify that pedagogues should act as an important bridge between education authorities and school-based teacher groups, helping to conduct professional learning activities and identifying areas where external advice would be beneficial. Pedagogical institutes could also establish networks of pedagogues in their jurisdiction to facilitate their own peer learning and mentorship.

Schools in BiH are expected to create regular staff development plans, but they do not receive any funding or support to enact those plans. In other OECD and partner countries, like Estonia and Singapore, the government provides schools with earmarked funding to address their staff development needs. This is viewed as an important component of system-wide efforts to improve teaching and learning. However, in BiH, it is unlikely that all competent education authorities would have the resources needed for this type of initiative. Alternatively, the Ministry of Civil Affairs might consider creating a grant programme whereby schools could submit proposals for funding to conduct continuous professional development projects that address broader education priorities (see Chapter 5). This would help teachers develop competences in key areas, such as inclusive education and ICT. It could also help to improve equity in BiH by prioritising schools in disadvantaged regions.

Instead of a state-level body, entity, canton or district authorities could undertake a new grant programme. Obtaining external funding for the grants from international actors would likely be a necessity given that a lack of resources has made similar grant programmes difficult to implement in the past. For example, the Federal Ministry of Education and Science of BiH conducted the Support to Professional Development of Pre-school and Primary and Secondary School Teachers grant programme between 2015 and 2019 (with plans to re-establish a similar programme in 2022) but funding constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of this initiative in 2020 and 2021. Drawing on international support for a state-level grant programme could be a good way for international actors to help strengthen teaching practices in BiH more systematically.

The absence of measures to motivate teachers’ professional development is a major issue in BiH that representatives of administrative units, school leaders and teachers all identified to the OECD review team. While all competent education authorities in this review have introduced career paths for teachers, most are not conducting merit-based promotions along these career paths, in some cases because rulebooks setting out advancement procedures have expired. A variety of factors have prevented competent education authorities from introducing new rulebooks on teacher career paths, including a lack of funding to pay teachers’ increased salaries and disagreements with the teaching profession about requirements for promotion. The lack of career advancement represents a missed opportunity to encourage individual teachers’ development and to leverage the skills of more experienced teachers to help improve schools and education systems within the country. Despite challenges, all competent education authorities should begin to conduct appraisals for promotion again. They should introduce new procedures that are more objective than past appraisals for promotion to ensure that career advancement decisions are fair and credible. They should also revise their career structures so that teachers at higher career levels receive rewarding salaries in exchange for taking on more complex responsibilities. Ideally, revisions to teacher standards to differentiate competences by career levels (see Recommendation 3.1.1) would inform these changes by strengthening the link between career advancement and performance . Competent education authorities should also consider developing other forms of recognition to reward teachers for working towards education system goals.

In addition to introducing new appraisal for promotion procedures, competent education authorities in BiH should review and revise their teacher career structures to ensure they sufficiently motivate teachers to learn and develop professionally. For example, education authorities might need to free up resources to provide more substantial performance-based salary increases to teachers. In the short term, authorities should consider new measures to recognise quality teaching without granting salary increases, such as reducing the workload of teachers who take on responsibilities that require higher levels of competency. These measures would provide teachers with a more immediate recognition of their performance, which could later complement other more formal incentives for career advancement.

Competent education authorities in BiH should ensure that teachers’ salary increases for career advancement are progressive enough to motivate teachers to develop professionally. In the past, salary steps associated with career advancement in BiH have not always been substantial. For example, in some administrative units, reaching the mentor, counsellor or senior counsellor levels was associated with salary increases of between 5 to 10% above teachers’ base salary, which was significantly less than in many other countries (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2020[13]). Kazakhstan, for example, has a five-stage teacher career path in which salary steps range from 30 to 50% over the base salary (OECD, 2020[42]). Without sufficiently rewarding salary steps, teachers in BiH may have little incentive to move up the career ladder once appraisals for promotion resume (see Recommendation 3.2.2).

One course of action could be for competent education authorities to monitor the impact of new career advancement procedures, including the number of teachers who seek promotion, and use this information to determine the extent of the need for a more progressive salary structure. All efforts to review and revise the salary scale should involve consultations with teachers’ unions and relevant stakeholders in each administrative unit. Increasing salaries will likely require deliberate efforts to address resource inefficiencies in administrative units. In the medium to long-term, competent education authorities could find additional funds by re-directing existing expenditures, such as for teachers’ bonuses (see below), consolidating networks of primary and secondary schools and addressing other resource inefficiencies.

Competent education authorities should also be much clearer in setting out responsibilities for each level of their teacher career paths not only to promote continuous development but also to leverage the competences of more experienced teachers. Not all competent education authorities have defined the specific responsibilities teachers should assume when they are promoted, particularly at higher career levels. In establishing these responsibilities, competent education authorities could, for example, make teachers at higher levels, like advisors or senior counsellors, responsible for leading complex school-wide activities to support teaching and learning, such as helping to conduct school self-evaluations (see Chapter 4). This progression of responsibility should also be reflected in the teacher standards. Specifically, when competent education authorities revise their teacher standards to identify the competences teachers should possess at each career level (see Recommendation 3.1.1), these competences should relate to the types of responsibilities teachers will be taking on as mentors, advisors or counsellors. BiH could use the experiences of North Macedonia as an example of an education system that has aligned competences and responsibilities to create a clear and coherent system for teacher career progression (see Box 3.4).

BiH could also recognise effective teachers by giving them opportunities to take on new roles in their schools in exchange for reducing their teaching load, without necessarily requiring teachers to seek promotion up the career ladder. An increasing number of OECD countries are distributing leadership in schools in this way to increase teachers’ job satisfaction and make use of teachers’ expertise to improve school quality. In BiH, competent education authorities could identify new leadership roles and responsibilities for teachers that address areas of importance to school and system performance, like inclusive education and formative assessment (see Chapters 2 and 4). Teachers’ new responsibilities in these areas could cover key facets of teacher leadership, notably leadership of students or other teachers (e.g. coaching, mentoring, developing curriculum, leading professional development); leadership of school operations or organisational tasks; and leadership through decision-making or partnerships (Katzenmeyer and Moller, 2009[44]).

Teacher leaders in BiH who focus on inclusive education, for instance, could coach school staff on how to differentiate instruction, evaluate the effectiveness of their school’s inclusive education policies, and co-ordinate changes to school practices. As Austria’s experience demonstrates, these new teacher leaders would need meaningful support to fulfil their responsibilities (see Box 3.5). In BiH, expert advisors in pedagogical institutes or ministries of education could provide coaching or networking opportunities to support their role. Competent education authorities would also need to issue guidance to help schools implement this initiative fairly and consistently, such as selection criteria to support the identification of teachers who are ready to take on new roles within their schools.

BiH should consider establishing a competitive, application-based scholarship programme to reward teachers with opportunities to expand their skills by studying key topics at the master’s degree level. As of 2019/20, about a third of EU education systems (16 out of 43) gave lower secondary teachers (primary education or ISCED 2 in BiH) opportunities to take a study leave of more than one month for formal degree programmes or other long-term professional development projects (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2021[8]). However, BiH has thus far not made this type of continuous professional development available to teachers (ibid). A scholarship programme could not only benefit individual teachers but also support improvements to teaching and learning across schools and administrative units. For example, competent education authorities could grant scholarships to teachers who demonstrate motivation to study designated topics related to the goals of their education system (e.g. inclusive education, formative assessment or using ICT to support learning). Education authorities could engage tertiary education providers in developing master’s programmes on these topics in tandem with efforts to improve ITE (see Recommendation 3.3.1).

Ensuring that teachers can put what they have learnt into practice in their schools should be a key component of this new scholarship programme. Indeed, an evaluation of a bursary programme for teachers in the Netherlands (De Lerarenbeurs) found that obtaining a master’s degree had a positive impact on teaching quality and teacher leadership but that the impact was dependent on school culture and structures (European Commission, 2018[46]). To address this, competent education authorities in BiH should consider measures like reducing participants’ teaching load upon their return to school to give them time to mentor their colleagues on their learning topic. They should also establish and clearly communicate the responsibilities of principals and school staff for helping teachers put their learning into practice. For instance, they could require principals to indicate their school’s commitment to the teacher’s participation in the programme as part of the application process.

In a positive move, administrative units like Republika Srpska are granting awards to teachers for using innovative teaching practices to meet education system goals (Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska, 2019[47]). However, other one-off financial bonuses for teachers in BiH do not encourage teachers to work towards education priorities. For example, teachers in Republika Srpska can also earn rewards of either 50%, 70% or 100% of their salary in the previous month for good performance, but this is not based on a clear definition of what good performance means (World Bank, 2021[24]). To encourage desired teaching practices, competent education authorities should base rewards on clear criteria that relate to new teacher standards and education system goals. In the long-term, competent authorities should consider phasing out financial bonuses in favour of rewarding teachers with more substantial salary increases based on career advancement, as recommended above. This would provide a more consistent and transparent method to reward teachers, particularly if based on the type of standards-based appraisal for promotion process recommended below.

All competent education authorities in BiH will need to begin conducting appraisals for promotion again to motivate teachers’ ongoing development. However, they should first revise their procedures to strengthen the integrity of appraisal decisions, as these have high stakes for a teacher’s career. In the past, some practices did not support reliable and impartial judgements. For example, individuals who had some connection to the teacher being appraised, whether their principal, colleagues, or expert advisor, acted as appraisers. Furthermore, the extent to which competent education authorities prepared and supported appraisers to make informed judgements and provide feedback to teachers on their performance is unclear. In addition, sources of evidence used for the appraisal, notably the teacher’s personal file, did not necessarily provide an authentic picture of teaching quality and may have encouraged unhelpful behaviour, like focusing on top-performing students or conducting continuous professional development just to “tick a box”. In developing new appraisal for promotion procedures, competent education authorities might benefit from the support of an external body to overcome staffing and funding shortages. Considering that the system is already organisationally complex, instead of creating another agency for this purpose, BiH should consider tasking APOSO, as the central body with expertise in teaching practices, with providing this support.

Competent education authorities should establish appraisal for promotion procedures that are consistent and reliable given that they have high stakes for a teacher’s career. These processes should include the following elements recommended in the research literature:

  • Appraisal against teacher standards. Teachers’ performance should be measured consistently against relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes. In the medium- to long-term, competent education authorities should differentiate teacher standards according to the career path in their jurisdiction (see Recommendation 3.1.1). This will help appraisers determine whether teachers are working towards or have achieved the competences for a specific career stage. Until these are developed, appraisers could refer to the responsibilities associated with each career level, in addition to any teacher standards, to determine teachers’ readiness for promotion (see Recommendation 3.2.1).

  • Impartial appraisers. Appraisals affecting a teacher’s career and remuneration should involve some element of externality to ensure objectivity (OECD, 2013[25]). Competent education authorities in BiH should thus consider contracting individuals who are external to a teacher’s school to conduct appraisals for promotion. These should be experienced educators with high levels of competency in pedagogy, like teacher-mentors, advisors or counsellors. Organising and preparing these appraisers will take time and resources and might require the support of a central body (see below). Appraisals for promotion should still take into account input from teachers’ regular school-based appraisers because they are most familiar with the teacher’s work, for example, by drawing on input from regular appraisal reports (see Recommendation 3.1.1).

  • Multiple sources of evidence offering an authentic picture of teachers’ competences. Positively, past appraisal for promotion procedures in BiH commonly relied on classroom observations, which provide direct evidence of teaching practices. Under revised procedures, appraisers should also obtain evidence from a combination of other sources, like interviews and portfolios that document how teachers’ work in the classroom and school demonstrates that they have developed relevant knowledge and skills according to the teacher standards. These should yield evidence that teachers are working to support the learning of all students, not just top performers. In the past, teachers in at least one administrative unit could gain points for having students who won competitions, which encourages a focus on top-performing students and is unfair to teachers who work with a high proportion of disadvantaged students.

  • Feedback to support teachers’ development. In a revised appraisal for promotion process, appraisers should provide constructive feedback to teachers on their strengths and areas for improvement in relation to the teacher standards. This could be included in a report for each teacher.

Appraisals for promotion in the administrative units in this review have been conducted annually or once every two years. By contrast, OECD and partner countries have generally established voluntary appraisals for promotion (7 out of 11 countries as of 2014) or mandatory ones every three or more years (3 countries) (OECD, 2015[29]). Through voluntary or less frequent appraisal-for-promotion procedures, these countries have found that teachers are more likely to engage constructively in their professional development, have more time to develop their competences and feel less pressure to fulfil stringent criteria. With the introduction of formative appraisals to monitor teachers’ performance and address weaknesses on an annual basis, as recommended above (see Recommendation 3.1.1), competent education authorities should consider making appraisals for promotion once every four or five years. To support quality assurance, all competent education authorities could require teachers to pass their appraisals in order to maintain their career level.

Appraisers and teachers in BiH will need guidance to implement new appraisal for promotion procedures. Specifically, appraisers will need support to make consistent judgements about teachers’ performance, and teachers will need help understanding how to compile a portfolio and demonstrate that they are ready for promotion. Competent education authorities should develop practical guidelines that describe how to implement appraisals for promotion in their respective jurisdiction. APOSO could also develop resources that different competent education authorities could adopt or use as a reference to create their own. These could be posted on the online platform recommended above (see Recommendation 3.1.2). Tools that would be particularly helpful for appraisers include indicators and performance levels that relate to teacher standards. These tell appraisers what to look for when appraising teachers against each standard and what different levels of performance look like. APOSO could develop these to supplement the Occupational standards for teachers in general education. They could draw from international examples of indicators and performance levels like those in Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, which has inspired appraisal systems in Quebec, Canada, parts of the United States, and Chile. This framework provides concrete descriptions of performance at unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished levels for different standards (Danielson, 2013[48]).

In BiH, APOSO could help competent education authorities overcome resource constraints to conduct credible, high-quality appraisals for promotion. Brčko District is an example of an administrative unit that could benefit from this type of support. In 2011, Brčko District began recruiting teachers as external appraisers to try to make their appraisal for promotion process more objective. However, they had difficulty assuring the quality of appraisers partly because their Pedagogical Institution lacked funding to train the appraisers properly. As a result, Brčko District stopped conducting appraisals for promotion in 2016.

APOSO could work with interested competent education authorities in a manner similar to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the authorities in Australian states and territories who certify Lead Teachers and Highly Accomplished Teachers as part of the teacher career structure there (AITSL, 2017[49]). Like the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, APOSO could:

  • Develop a common appraisal for promotion process in consultation with interested competent education authorities, which education authorities could then implement. For example, in Australia, the appraisal is based on common teacher standards (AITSL, 2017[49]). Each competent education authority could still have their own context-specific appraisal requirements, as in Australia, where, for instance, one state has requirements regarding the type of roles teachers must hold when applying for promotion (Queensland College of Teachers, n.d.[50]).

  • Establish a common training programme, which competent education authorities could require all appraisers to complete in their respective administrative unit in order to have approval to conduct appraisals. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, for example, has the same requirement in relation to its Assessor Training Program, which prepares appraisers to use teacher standards to make reliable judgements about teachers’ performance (AITSL, 2018[51]).

  • Issue appraisal guidelines and other resources to help competent education authorities, teachers and appraisers conduct the different elements of the appraisal process.

BiH has been a full member of the Bologna Process since 2003, and a state-level accreditation body, HEA, has introduced basic minimum quality criteria for the accreditation of tertiary institutions that provide ITE. Another positive feature of teacher preparation in BiH is a compulsory internship, which provides all newly employed graduates with mentorship from an experienced teacher at the start of their career. If well designed, this type of induction period can help to increase the competence and job satisfaction of novice teachers, which can have a positive impact on student achievement (OECD, 2014[52]). However, there is also significant room to improve the initial preparation of teachers in BiH, and a limited use of data to anticipate future teacher supply and demand, which could help to inform needs-based admission quotas, entry requirements and financial support. In particular, BiH could develop programme-specific requirements for accreditation to help improve the quality of ITE. Competent education authorities should work with various stakeholders to ensure that internship mentors feel prepared and supported to carry out their role. They will also need to ensure that new vocational teachers who have not completed ITE can access required pedagogical coursework during their internship.

Research suggests that ITE, as currently delivered in BiH, is not preparing new teachers for the demands of the classroom and student-centred learning. At present, the quality of initial teacher preparation in BiH varies across institutions, and programmes generally cover less content on pedagogy, psychology, didactics and methodology than is common in EU countries (USAID, 2018[14]). Competent education authorities do not always have minimum criteria for the duration and design of the practicum to ensure that future teachers obtain adequate practical experience before they qualify and take up a teaching position. Moreover, there are limited measures in place to make sure that mentors can provide new teachers with effective support during the internship. As a result, studies have found that many ITE graduates in BiH do not feel competent to work as teachers (CPU, 2015, in (USAID, 2018[14]). To address these issues, BiH should establish policies to improve the quality of initial teacher education, including more rigorous accreditation criteria and expectations for teacher candidates (OECD, 2019[53]). Competent education authorities should also provide more guidance and support to internship mentors.

BiH should consider requiring ITE providers to demonstrate that their programmes meet minimum standards. At present, these programmes do not need to be accredited, and during the review process, stakeholders in BiH repeatedly expressed concerns about their quality, especially the quality of programmes offered by private providers. Over the past few years, there has been a rapid expansion of private higher education institutions in BiH; the country now has the highest number of tertiary institutions per capita in Southeast Europe (10 public and 36 private as of 2017) (OBC Transeuropa, 2017[54]). At the same time, corruption in the tertiary education sector has been an ongoing challenge (see Chapter 1) (European Commission, 2019[55]). According to the 2020 Bologna Process Implementation Report, BiH’s system of external quality assurance is currently at the second of five stages of development, which is lower than all other countries in the Western Balkans aside from Albania.

To ensure the quality of ITE programmes in BiH, ITE providers should agree to undertake an HEA inspection in order to qualify for programme accreditation, and then commit to participating in a process of regular reporting, which could take the form of a self-assessment, with a set of indicators that could help the HEA or equivalent bodies in the administrative units identify any red flags. Where major problems are identified, ITE providers should agree to submit to an additional inspection. The HEA should recommend and/or equivalent bodies in the administrative units should follow through with the closure of programmes that do not meet minimum standards. In a system the size of BiH, initial accreditation could also include qualitative reviews, perhaps involving experts from neighbouring countries such as Croatia and Slovenia. While these measures would have implications for the funding and staffing of the HEA and equivalent bodies in the administrative units, they are likely a necessary measure to strengthen quality assurance of ITE programmes in BiH – in particular, those offered by private providers. Faced with a similar situation, in 2009, Portugal set up an independent quality assurance agency for higher education that established criteria and procedures for the accreditation of new study programmes and then launched a first cycle of reviews of programmes that were already in operation (completed in 2016). This process led to a significant reduction in the number of tertiary study programmes offered in Portugal, notably in the private sector, but is widely regarded as having been successful in eliminating low-quality programmes across the country (OECD, 2019[56]).

Once requirements for programme-level accreditation are in place, BiH should develop ITE-specific accreditation criteria. At present, BiH only has general programme-level accreditation criteria, which are not specific to teacher preparation. ITE-specific accreditation criteria should include areas that are critical for high-quality ITE, such as coverage of pedagogical skills and criteria for the teaching practicum. To develop these criteria, BiH should use the common occupational standards as a reference to develop these criteria. Specifically, the criteria should define the outcomes that ITE programmes should achieve or what teachers should know and be able to do by graduation (OECD, 2005[57]). This would be similar to the practice in OECD countries like Australia, Ireland and Estonia, where ITE providers must demonstrate how their programmes will facilitate teacher candidates’ acquisition of relevant competences as part of the accreditation process (OECD, 2019[53]).

New accreditation criteria in BiH could also set out requirements for the length of the practicum and its design, such as the expectation that providers work with placement schools and offer training and support to practicum mentors. Furthermore, BiH should develop guidelines that provide more details about requirements for accreditation to help providers revise their programmes. A technical Task Force recommended in Chapter 5 to support the Conference of Education Ministers could undertake these efforts. Such a task force should include representatives of state-level bodies, like HEA and APOSO, competent education authorities, and ITE providers. This work would be somewhat similar to that of Germany’s Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (sub-national bodies), which approved standards for teacher training in 2004 and common content requirements for subject-related studies and didactics in teacher training across the Länder in 2008 (Schleicher, 2016[58]).

Competent education authorities could also create or revise legislated requirements for entry to the teaching profession to spur changes to the design of ITE programmes. These new requirements could ensure that new teachers complete a minimum number of credits in essential areas, like pedagogy, psychology, didactics and teaching methods. Competent education authorities could develop these requirements independently, but it would be better if they worked together through the Conference of Education Ministers and with initial teacher education providers to harmonise them. This will support teacher employability across BiH and make the requirements more feasible for ITE providers to meet, considering programmes attract entrants from different administrative units.

Competent education authorities should review and revise the contents of required preparatory courses for VET teachers who enter the profession as a second career to ensure that they sufficiently cover student-centred teaching approaches. PISA 2018 data shows that teacher-directed instruction (e.g. lecturing to students), which is associated with lower student outcomes, was more common in vocational schools than general education schools in BiH (Figure 3.3), and that the difference was greater than the average difference across OECD and Western Balkan countries (OECD, 2020[15]). Competent education authorities should also uncover and address any barriers to participation in preparatory courses by, for example, surveying VET teachers in their respective administrative units. A small 2015 study found that some industrial engineers who were working as teachers in BiH had not completed any formal teacher education and had only taken the professional exam (USAID, 2018[14]). In OECD countries, common barriers to participation include time constraints and scheduling difficulties (OECD, 2021[59]). If these are issues in BiH, authorities could try offering flexible training opportunities (e.g. online course delivery) or reducing VET teachers’ workload to facilitate their participation (ibid). Sweden, for instance, has addressed both financial and time constraints by offering grants to VET teachers to cover the costs of preparatory courses and reducing their working hours by 25% (ibid). In BiH, online course delivery should already be possible given that it has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In BiH, the main support competent education authorities provide to new teachers during their internship is mentorship by experienced teachers. Positively, competent education authorities in this review clearly set out who should serve as mentors to interns by identifying their role in their career paths. Re-starting appraisals for promotion, if revised as recommended above, will support the identification of effective mentors in the future. In addition, competent education authorities have historically recognised mentors’ increased workload through salary increases related to their career advancement or other additional remuneration. However, mentors’ specific responsibilities are not clear, and they receive limited support for their role (World Bank, 2021[24]).

To make sure that mentors can provide effective support to interns, competent education authorities should:

  • Define the responsibilities of mentors during the internship in rulebooks and guidelines. This will establish clear expectations for their role and help to ensure that all interns receive the same level of support.

  • Develop mentorship guidelines. In addition to setting out mentors’ responsibilities, these should provide practical resources for mentors, like forms they could use to record their observations of interns’ practices. Competent education authorities could survey mentors and new teachers to determine what other resources would be helpful.

  • Provide free mandatory training. This should consist of a practical seminar that covers mentors’ main responsibilities, including how to conduct classroom observations and provide constructive feedback to support interns’ professional learning. APOSO might develop modules for this training, and then work alongside the pedagogical institutes to help them to deliver this training to the teachers that will serve as mentors.

  • Offer ongoing support. For example, pedagogical institutes / ministries of education could establish networks for mentors to share effective practices with each other.

Unlike the majority of European countries, competent education authorities in BiH do not conduct systematic forward planning to inform decision-making around policies related to the supply of new teachers (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[2]). As a result, competent education authorities risk an oversupply of teachers in some areas and a shortage in others. By making better use of data to inform admission quotas and ITE entry requirements, competent education authorities could ensure a more efficient use of resources and better anticipate future needs. Such efforts could also free up funding for scholarships in areas that face a shortage of teachers, as well as support other education reforms. In developing scholarships and new requirements for entry to ITE, competent education authorities could look to Republika Srpska, which proposed similar activities in its 2016-2021 education strategy (European Commission, 2018[60]).

Competent education authorities should develop a forecasting model that uses a range of data variables to project areas of teacher over- and undersupply. For example, forecasting models in European countries generally include data like the demographics of the teaching population (e.g. age distribution), the number of teachers by subjects taught, the rate of early leaving and retirement, and the employment status of teachers (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018[2]). Given capacity shortfalls in different administrative units, one option could be for a state-level body such as the Ministry of Civil Affairs to lead the development of a common forecasting model, possibly with the technical or financial support of an international actor. The Bulgarian government, for instance, recently developed a forecasting model with the World Bank. In BiH, a common forecasting model would rely on data from – and be used by – competent education authorities. Accordingly, competent education authorities should make efforts to improve the quality of the data they collect and further develop their education management information systems (EMIS), where they exist (see Chapter 5).

Using a forecasting model to develop or adjust policies would help ensure an appropriate supply of competent teachers. Considering this issue affects all administrative units, BiH might consider a state-level or an entity-level response (i.e. RS and FBiH). In many cases, developing and using this type of forecasting model will involve working with initial teacher education providers. Specifically, BiH education authorities should use the model to:

  • Adjust admission quotas to ITE programmes. At present, competent education authorities base decisions regarding the funding of ITE spaces on proposals from tertiary providers that rely on labour market analyses (e.g. the number of retiring teachers). A forecasting model, as described here, could take into account additional data variables, and provide a more comprehensive and independent way to determine admission quotas and funding for ITE programmes.

  • Establish thresholds for acceptance to ITE programmes. There are no minimum requirements for admission to these programmes at present. In the medium- to long-term, a key threshold could be minimum grades on new Matura exams at the end of secondary education (see Chapter 2), which would provide external confirmation that candidates have achieved a basic level of competence in key subject areas. ITE providers should also ensure that any additional requirements for admission measure competences that are relevant to teaching. For example, interviews that assess applicants’ motivation to teach and their socio-emotional skills may be a helpful complement to existing criteria, such as their grade point average, since this would enable schools to identify attitudes and aptitudes that are essential for success in the classroom.

  • Introduce or adjust ITE scholarships for the best candidates. Policies regarding scholarships vary across administrative units. Competent education authorities that currently cover all tuition costs for full-time first-cycle initial teacher education students could shift to more targeted measures, like scholarships for high-performing students or students who study shortage subject areas, if data indicates that there is not a general teacher shortage in their area.

  • Identify harder-to-staff schools and introduce incentives to attract competent teachers to work there. At present, some competent education authorities provide teachers with salary allowances if they work at a school that is a certain distance away from a municipal centre (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2020[13]). Competent education authorities might consider introducing additional incentives, such as career fast tracks or priority in transferring to their next school for teachers who commit to teaching in a harder-to-staff school for a certain period. Competent education authorities could also factor in the results of new appraisals for promotion to target incentives to the most competent experienced teachers.

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