World Bank: Teachers Put Shanghai Ahead in Global Tests
Shanghai students consistently have outperformed students from other parts of the world in math, science and reading on the annual PISA tests. The World Bank set out to find out how Shanghai — a city of 23 million — does it.
The answer is simple: good teachers.
It seems that treating teachers as valued professionals, while expecting them to meet stringent standards of pedagogy and professional development, is the secret to educating children effectively.
It found the standard of teaching was the biggest advantage, including a system of constant teacher training and upgrading of skills.
Teachers in Shanghai, on average, spend only a third of their time teaching - with most of their time being spent on training, preparation and working with mentors.
There are “stringent” requirements to get into teaching, which is seen as a prestigious job, and even though teachers can be dismissed, the study found that, in practice, this was rare.
Instead, there was a system with a very strong emphasis on training and a career built on incentives for the best teachers.
Teachers can receive as much as 30% of their pay in merit payments, decided at school level, on top of a basic salary.
Head teachers are expected to carry on teaching and part of their pay is linked to their school’s performance.
There are incentives for teachers and head teachers to work in tougher underperforming and rural schools - such as helping their careers to advance more quickly.
High student achievement was not limited to the well-to-do; the World Bank investigation found that all children, even migrants from other parts of China, tended to score better than even European and American kids.
All schools in Shanghai are expected to follow the same basic curriculum, although schools can adjust the curriculum within certain parameters. This policy ensures uniform educational quality, regardless of school location.
But the report notes that the exam-oriented nature of Shanghai’s schools places undue pressure on schoolchildren, at the expense of “emotional well-being.” (This is a problem shared by nearly all schools in China.) There is also little opportunity for parental input and feedback.
Rather than demeaning teachers or punishing them for poor exam results, Shanghai recognizes that without well prepared teachers, students cannot succeed. Too bad politicians and school boards in the USA cannot understand this basic idea.