“Teachers have limited capacity and skills to effectively teach literacy and numeracy.”
This was one of the many problems the Pacific Benchmarking for Education Results (PaBER) report noted about Samoa, according to a copy obtained by the Samoa Observer.
The PABER programme was introduced in 2012 to improve the quality of education and student performance across the Pacific, in particular to respond to low levels of literacy and numeracy.
The report, which was released last year, is a damning indictment on the overall quality of teachers and the ability levels of students in the Samoan education system.
PaBER provides education ministries in the Pacific with systematic and reliable evidence and analysis of their own systems, benchmarked against high performing systems globally.
There were five domains noted in the report. They are: Teacher Quality, Student Assessment, Curriculum and Materials, School Governance and Management, and Education Management Information Systems.
According to the report, global research indicates the central importance of teacher quality in ensuring improved student learning.
PaBER research aimed to assess how the Samoan education system recruits and deploys good quality teachers, equips them with the skills and knowledge they need, and keeps them motivated, performing and improving over time.
Three key findings and the underpinning evidence are as follows:
The report says that there is an absence of clear guidelines for the implementation and monitoring of school- based professional development programme limiting the effectiveness of support to teachers to improve instruction.
Furthermore the, National Teacher Development Framework stipulates that all teachers in Samoa must receive professional development and that “improvement of teaching-learning outcomes in the classroom will be at the core of education, training, and staff development programmes.
“However, the framework does not specify the kinds of activities that would be most effective to improve teaching practice at school level, how to carry them out, how much professional development teachers should take part in, and how often.”
According to the report teachers are required to participate in professional development but PaBER research findings revealed that the majority of teachers do not receive this on an on-going basis.
For those teachers who participated in such training, there is little evidence to suggest that skills learnt have translated to improved teaching.
It is also likely that the lack of structured training and mentoring programmes for school principals is limiting their ability to provide instructional leadership and support to teachers.
One of the key findings under teacher quality has it that teachers themselves have limited capacity and skills to effectively teach literacy and numeracy.
“There are no specific requirements set out in policy or teacher education frameworks for the teaching of literacy and numeracy,” the report reads.
The report points out that while teachers receive in-service training, most of the training does not specifically address the targeted areas required for literacy and numeracy and there is little or no evidence that these trainings are planned in advance.
“Furthermore, most teachers are not able to fully utilise literacy and numeracy resources claiming the language used in the curriculum is too difficult.”
Another finding is that teachers are not able to effectively implement classroom assessment due to lack of capacity to plan and develop classroom assessment and use results to improve teaching and learning.
The report notes that in Samoa, teachers are now required to have at least a degree to enter into teaching profession and practical classroom experience is part of the requirements in pre-service training.
“As part of this, it is expected that teachers are to have the necessary skills to carry out classroom assessment. Teachers in Samoa are also provided with a variety of training opportunities to develop competencies with classroom assessment.
“However, findings from PaBER research indicate that teachers lack these competencies. “The majority of the teachers, based on the research finding, use summative not formative assessment and are unable to develop and use assessment tools to guide teaching strategies.”
The Samoa Observer will publish other aspects of the report in later editions.