Education planners, search no more. The IIEP Learning Portal has collected insights from recent research on quality education and improving learning outcomes to give you a head start on the top 25 ways to improve learning.
Following the recent negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, leaders around the world have committed to ensuring quality primary and secondary education for their populations. As Presidents, Prime Ministers, and royalty turn to their Ministries of Education to accomplish this goal, planners may justifiably wonder how to prioritize their time and funding in order to achieve “relevant and effective learning” for all.
There have been many studies of the factors that contribute to educational quality, and many models have been developed to illustrate their interrelationships. At least five models have been particularly influential on an international scale, including a UNICEF study in 2000 on defining quality in education, the 2005 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the UNESCO General Education System Quality Analysis Framework (GEQAF), the World Bank’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER), and the various analyses produced by international large-scale assessment regimes such as PISA.
Education is complex, but planners need clarity. Here, we summarize the research to give you 25 ways to improve learning in just one sentence each. For more details, take a look at the research briefs on our Improve Learning page and search for further reading in our Library.
25 Ways to Improve Learning
Teachers and Pedagogy
1. Recruit enough strong teacher candidates into the profession and deploy them equitably throughout the education system.
2. Motivate teachers by improving their status and conditions.
3. Prepare future teachers for the realities of their teaching contexts through strong coursework in pedagogical content knowledge and field experiences.
4. Empower teachers to use effective and appropriate pedagogy, using a range of approaches to meet the needs of different content areas, different children, and different contexts.
5. Support in-service teachers through context-relevant, on-going, and collaborative opportunities for continuous professional development.
Learners and Support Structures
6. Understand students’ diverse learning abilities and learning challenges.
7. Ensure that all students—at all ages—arrive at school ready to learn by: attending to the pre-requisites for cognitive development, protecting children’s physical and socio-emotional health, and ensuring that they have enough time to rest, study, and play.
8. Implement a mix of centre- and home-based early childhood education programming that focuses on the holistic development of the child while supporting parenting skills.
9. Involve parents in promoting, encouraging, and enriching their child’s learning.
10. Coordinate with other social services in order to help resolve the socio-economic inequities that contribute to lower learning outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Curriculum and Materials
11. Teach children in their mother tongue language for at least 6 years before they switch fully to a different language of instruction.
12. Develop relevant and effective curriculum and standards, and ensure their dissemination and implementation.
13. Procure relevant and effective textbooks and teachers’ guides, and ensure that students and teachers have regular access to them.
14. Use cost-effective supplementary materials to enrich teaching in every subject, to engage students in multi-dimensional learning, and to build students’ abilities to apply their knowledge.
15. Develop the digital literacy of teachers and students through appropriate and cost-effective use of information and communications technology (ICT).
Schools and Classrooms
16. Prepare and support school leaders who have a vision for improving quality and learning outcomes, and who are also effective at ongoing management tasks.
17. Design the physical school space to be accessible, safe, hygienic, reasonably comfortable, and cognitively stimulating.
18. Institute school-wide policies that reinforce positive school relationships through open dialogue and violence prevention, that ensure a reasonable student workload, and that promote students’ sense that what they are learning is meaningful.
19. Ensure students have enough time to learn in school by adhering to planned schedules, improving teacher attendance and motivation, and building skills for effective classroom management and quality instruction.
20. Ensure student achievement is assessed throughout the year, that diverse methods of instruction and assessment methods are utilised, and that assessment practises meet quality standards of fairness, validity, and reliability.
Education System Management
21. Ground education sector analysis and strategic planning in reliable research and data to identify priority issues and means for improving learning outcomes.
22. Allow decentralized decision-making to determine the most important local priorities for learning, while ensuring that capacity-building and other resources are distributed fairly.
23. Ensure school inspections give accurate reports and explicit feedback to inform the school’s improvement plan.
24. Design large-scale and summative assessments that are valid, reliable, and equitable, and use the resulting data to improve learning through systemic change.
25. Dedicate sufficient resources to education and design school funding formulae to link resource deployment with key inputs and processes that can improve learning outcomes.