RESEARCH

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.

Another report for the NCEE, 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. These systems focus on teacher selection and education, content specialisation, and professional learning systems in schools -- four powerful policy levers for improving learning among young students.

Learning First also publishes a Spotlight Series of smaller reports on important and topical issues in education. A 2015 report, A new approach: Reforming teacher education, shows how many countries share similar concerns about the declining quality of initial teacher education. But change is possible and systems in Japan, Finland, South Korea and Hong Kong have shown the way. Our report examines how to get autonomous universities to improve their training programs and align them with government plans to lift school performance. It is the first piece of research in a two-year project for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will set out how the lessons of best practice around the world can be used to produce better teacher education graduates and early year teachers in the United States and other countries.