by John Hellmann and Sarah Simons
For full report click here.
Developments in Literacy (DIL) is a non-profit organization educating over 13,000 underprivileged children in rural Pakistan. At its ten year anniversary, DIL has identified teacher professional development as an essential element to achieving the organization’s strategic goal of delivering quality education.
This Applied Policy Project is an assessment of the teacher professional development activities and operations of three of DIL’s projects managed by partner organizations. The assessment was conducted through field research in the U.S. and Pakistan and included nearly 100 interviews with teachers, DIL and project staff, teacher trainers, and staff of other education organizations. The report is based on research findings, as well as a best practices and literature review of teacher professional development practices.
Our research highlighted many strengths at DIL’s partner projects, including strong organizational structures with staff that provide teachers with continuous on-site support. Our work also identified important issues that affect teacher development across all three projects. This report provides analysis and recommendations for these issues, dividing them into two broad categories: 1) Teacher Professional Development and 2) Project Management. The following measures are those that we urge DIL to take:
Teacher Professional Development
Comparable education non-profit organizations provide training to their teachers before they begin working in the classroom and one of the three projects we assessed already has an organized pre-service program. As DIL moves toward increasing their presence at projects through more direct management, we recommend that DIL institutionalize a pre-service training program for project staff to administer to all new teachers.
Teacher training has the potential to be much more effective. We recommend that DIL consider increasing involvement of project staff in planning, incorporating post-training reinforcement tools and activities, and systematically collecting feedback from teachers and staff, as well as encouraging project staff to increase documentation of training data.
DIL’s Project Staff spend the most time assisting teachers, know their needs best, and have the greatest potential to impact their classroom instruction. We recommend that DIL staff increase their involvement in the coordination of project activities to utilize them to their full potential and maximize the human capital at its projects.
Both DIL and Project Staff could benefit greatly from teacher needs assessment training. DIL’s Director of Training should create a needs assessment workshop plan to train future staff. Furthermore, in an effort to standardize assessment methods, the Director of Training and Development Manager should assess each project’s forms to design one for use at all projects.
Teacher testing methods need to be strengthened and used regularly. This is critical for evaluating teachers’ skill levels more accurately and designing appropriate training and teacher professional development activities. We recommend that DIL organize testing training for its staff and that DIL institutionalize annual teacher tests.
DIL Project Management
Despite high levels of dedication at the projects, current Field Staff turnover rates have economic and programming consequences for DIL’s work. A key factor is a salary structure that is defined by partner NGOs, which does not retain or incentivize staff as well as it could. As DIL becomes more directly involved in project management, we recommend a revision of the salary structure to better approximate local market wages, account for skill level and include performance-based rewards.
Field Staff face a workload that detracts from the on-site assistance and training they can provide to teachers. As DIL increases their involvement across projects, we recommend that DIL continue to establish Attendance Committees within existing Village Education Committees, increase the use of Head Teachers and institutionalize monthly school meetings for parents. These initiatives will reduce Field Staff overburdening, as well as improve student attendance rates, to increase Field Staff’s focus on assisting teachers in improving their classroom skills and knowledge.
As DIL looks to the next ten years, improving the quality of its teachers and schools will require an all-encompassing effort that includes:
a) improved management techniques and strategies on the part of DIL staff,
b) strengthened relations and understanding of the work project staff do,
c) a workplace culture that uses objective measures of performance, and
d) planning that addresses long-term consequences.
These recommendations aim to provide DIL with the tools to achieve more efficient and sustainable teacher professional development activities, which will ultimately lead to higher quality education for the children of DIL’s schools.