Education International welcomes today’s release of the OECD’s first Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). As a consultative partner throughout the process, EI recognises the importance of this research which, for the first time, sought the views of classroom teachers around the world about their professional lives.
“The TALIS survey offers unique insights into the attitudes of teachers about their working conditions, school leadership, professional development, collegial feedback and appraisal, and other important issues in schools everywhere,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.
He noted that the survey’s vast data base offers impressive evidence of teachers’ strong commitment to their profession and dedication to their students. “Teachers do care,” van Leeuwen said. “They have a deep desire to provide quality education for all, and are willing to work hard to improve their skills to meet the diverse needs of today’s challenging student populations.”
TALIS 2009 is the first in a series of comparative perspectives of teaching and learning conditions of lower secondary teachers in public and private schools in 23 OECD member and partner countries. (Note: Important OECD countries including the USA, Canada, France, Germany and the UK declined to participate in the study.)
EI is positive about the findings, especially the emphasis on quality professional development. While 40% of respondents reported a lack of professional development opportunities, the data clearly show that teachers are eager for career-long learning. Indeed, many invest their own out-of-class time, energy, and personal funds in professional development.
Van Leeuwen cautioned that education ministries must not use this evidence of teachers’ willingness to pay as a reason to cut funding. “It is still the responsibility of governments to invest in ongoing training for a capable and highly-educated teaching force.”
A key feature of the TALIS report is a highly individualistic approach to teachers’ professional development. “However, as teacher trade unionists, we know the value of learning together and we’re concerned that TALIS runs the risk of undermining collective strategies for school improvement,” van Leeuwen said.
Another key concern about TALIS is the potential for linkage of teachers’ professional development with performance-based pay according to results of PISA, the OECD’s large-scale study of student achievement, he said.
“Facing the economic crisis, it is critical that governments invest in public education to build the knowledge economy,” van Leeuwen concluded. “That means investing in quality teachers.”