Learning First produces informed, extensively researched reports that show how to lift student performances across systems - not just in a few schools.

Learning First produces informed, extensively researched reports that show how to lift student performance across systems, not just in a few schools. Many of our reports provide a toolkit for schools and policy makers to help guide reforms.

The reports gather lessons from the world’s best-performing education systems and translate that evidence base into steps that governments, school leaders and teachers can take to improve student learning in their local context.

For example, whenever levels of student learning stagnate or fall, the response is universal: we must improve teaching. It is the right response but very hard to achieve. Millions of dollars are spent on teacher professional development without doing much to lift our kids’ learning. But some systems are getting it right.  Our 2016 report for the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) in the United States, Beyond PD: Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems, shows how British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore have dramatically improved teaching – and how the rest of us can learn from them.

Preparing to Lead, a 2017 report also written for the NMCEE, shows how four of the world’s highest-performing systems in PISA tests — Ontario, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong — have developed leadership training that uses deep knowledge of their individual system to prepare aspiring principals. 

Another report, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Systems, shows how the preparation of early school teachers in Finland, Japan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong builds deep understanding of the content being taught to young students, as well as of how they learn that content.


How we can better train new teachers for the classroom.



How high-performing systems develop their teachers and prepare principals.



Designing programs for aspiring principals.