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Research Developments from ACER

Education & Development

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Investment in teacher development overseas: are we making a difference?

A growing evaluation program is helping the Australian Government ensure that its international aid investments will bring real improvements in teaching quality and student learning.

An Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) project commissioned by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to evaluate teacher professional development investments in developing countries has been expanded.

As previously reported in [rd], the program began with an evaluation of the Professional Learning and Mentoring Program in Timor-Leste and is now growing to include evaluations in Vanuatu and Laos.

The evaluation began after a 2015 internal review found almost no evidence that Australian Government investment in professional development programs for teachers in developing countries had improved teacher effectiveness or student learning outcomes. In response, DFAT committed to longitudinal evaluation of its spending in this area and engaged ACER to conduct that evaluation.

The evaluation aims to provide an evidence base to determine:

  • To what extent have Australian investments in professional development of teachers contributed to improved outcomes?
  • What are the conditions of success for teacher professional development investments, and how can lessons learned inform future programming?

The results will guide the design and implementation of future Australian Government investments and help local authorities make educational planning and programming decisions.

An overarching conceptual framework has been developed in order to allow for regional differences as the project expands internationally. Adding more countries to the process represents ‘a valuable opportunity to contribute to the thin empirical evidence in the Indo-Pacific region on outcomes from teacher development investments’, according to project lead Dr Elizabeth Cassity, a Senior Research Fellow in ACER’s Education and Development research program.

The evaluation is being conducted by DFAT’s Education Analytics Service, which is managed by ACER with Cardno Emerging Markets. The ACER team is led by Dr Cassity and supported by Debbie Wong, Sheldon Rothman, Adeola Capel, Louise Ockwell, Jennie Chainey and Jacqueline Cheng, with technical oversight provided by Dr Hilary Hollingsworth. ■

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