The conclusions will be presented by giving the answers to the three research questions of this report: That is (1) The effect of CPD on the practice of teaching and teachers’ needs. (2) The support structure for the implementation of CPD. (3) The constraints of CPD.
1. What is the effect of the CPD implementation on the practice of teaching and in what extent does this meet the need of teachers?
The conclusion about learning together is that many teachers and education officers think that teachers gain a lot by working and learning together in a team. Most teachers have observed another while teaching. Often this is done as an exercise during the CPD course but only a small number of the teachers see observing each other as an integral part of the job. Giving and receiving feedback about teaching as a regular activity is only done by a minority of the teachers. Most primary school teachers shared experience during interschool visits and evaluated this positively; for secondary schools this is a minority. The challenge for new CPD initiatives will be to increase within school teams the willingness and skills to give and receive feedback as part of the profession.
-All teachers have a portfolio. In most primary schools teachers share the information of the portfolio. In secondary schools there is significantly less sharing of information about the portfolio. The portfolio’s purpose is seen by teachers as a form of assessment and not as an instrument for improving their teaching practice. This can be a reason that, many teachers copy from each other. The only feedback principals and supervisors have given to teachers is signing that the portfolio is written.
- The activities most mentioned in the portfolio are continuous assessment, applying active learning and doing action research.
- There is a lack of information about the format and the purpose of the portfolio at all levels. Because of that there is no uniformity.
- For Woredas, the portfolio has the function of monitoring CPD implementation. The reliability of this information is questionable considering the previous conclusions about the way teachers write portfolios.
The conclusions about applying active learning methods are:
- Teachers say that they use a wide variety of active learning methods. Most teachers think that the CPD course has a positive effect on a number of teaching skills. Secondary school teachers are less positive about this effect of CPD than primary school teachers. The classroom observations showed - especially in secondary schools - less variety of teaching methods than teachers said they are using. In primary schools group work was regularly observed. Frontal instruction or questioning was the most frequently used method in primary and secondary schools.
- Apart from active learning other teaching skills are acquired by CPD. The most important ones - as named by teachers and Woredas - are sharing experience, solving problems by using action research, handling different levels of students, working together as a team and applying continuous assessment.
The conclusions about the needs of teachers related to the content of CPD are:
- All teachers like the parts of the course that are related to the teaching learning process. Most of the primary school teachers find the content of the CPD course relevant to their work. For many secondary school teachers the CPD content is seen as a repetition of their previous study.
- HIV/Aids and Gender issues are the most controversial topics. Some see it as one of the most useful parts of the CPD course while others, especially in secondary education, see it as redundant.
- To make the content of the CPD course so that it meets the needs of teachers is, according to the principals and supervisors, one of the most important issues. Therefore they want more training.
2. In what way has the cluster policy of the Amhara region supported teachers in improving the teaching practice?
- At school level the conclusion is that primary school teachers are far more positive about the role of the principal in implementing CPD than secondary school teachers. Observing classes and stimulating intergroup discussions are regularly encouraged by the principals of primary schools.
- At cluster level the data are collected for primary school only. The principals and supervisors organise interschool visits as part of the CPD. Teachers are attending these meetings and most of them see it as a useful activity. The role of the cluster in this is not clear; it does not seem that the cluster committee is the initiator.
- Another function of the cluster has to do with the cluster centre. Almost all observed schools have a pedagogical or resource centre. The quality of the centre and the frequency with which it is used varies enormously. Principals and supervisors find the use of teaching aids very important but the class and school observations did not confirm that it has a high priority. In the practice of teaching, the teaching aids from the centre are seldom used.
- The cluster committee should be the initiator for all cluster plans and activities. However, a number of clusters have no cluster committee and / or do not know what the function is of a cluster committee. The cluster committee has no important role in the implementation of CPD.
- Most of the principals are satisfied with the support they get from the supervisor. Principals express a great need for training but they see training in managing the cluster as the least important part aspect. This is another indicator that the cluster is not seen as a very important structure for the CPD implementation.
- Most Woredas have regular contacts with the principals and supervisors about CPD and other innovation programs. In this way Woredas play a key role in the implementation process of CPD for primary education.
3. What are the administrative and content constraints for implementing CPD?
-The main administrative constraints for CPD as seen by the teachers are the lack of trained facilitators and the extra work load because of CPD. Teachers see this as a severe problem. Woredas see the motivation of teachers as the main constraint. A number of constraints that have been mentioned in other CPD evaluations (AREB 2008 – 2; Liyew, 2008) are the language problem (English- Amharic) and the lack of CPD course books. By translating CPD books into Amharic the language constraint has been solved in most of the schools. The lack of books has partly been solved. More books are distributed, but not enough of them, is the opinion of secondary school teachers in particular. Another administrative constraint that was mentioned by the teachers is the lack of awareness about the background of CPD. The Woredas came also up with this but most of them added that it was one of the problems at the start of the CPD implementation. The Woreda would like to have more training about CPD in order to support the schools better. Another constraint for Woredas and Zones is being understaffed to support the schools well. Especially for rural schools, the support situation is problematic.
Administrative constraints are mentioned three times more often than content so in general the content constraints are seen as less important. What is mentioned mainly by secondary school teachers is the redundancy of CPD content; primary school teachers in particular said that the content is not understood because of difficult concepts and language; third in rank is the insufficiency of time allotted to finish exercises and CPD courses.
There are two different kind of constraints for the cluster system mentioned by the Woreda and Zone education offices. In the first group are the constraints that are related to the capacity of the education offices. The most frequently mentioned are; no clear guidelines for different aspects of the cluster system; not enough support for the staff; understaffing and lack of budget to provide training.
The second group of constraints is related to the organisation of the clusters itself. The most important constraints are; the rural schools are too far away; too many schools in 1 cluster and different facilities of schools and clusters are too large because schools are too large.
1. Schools should have the possibility to choose which CPD programs they want to take.
The evaluation of CPD made clear that secondary schools in general were not satisfied with CPD. Teachers of secondary schools think that they spent too much time without having the experience that it helped them in their professional development. Woredas mentioned that, also for primary schools, a lack of motivation is the main challenge in the implementation process. That is why a recommendation is to address the motivation problem by making CPD tailor made for the school.
The schools’ choice of the CPD content will be based on analysing the learning needs of teachers. Another criterion for choosing a CPD program is to combine CPD with other EQIP programs (e.g. SIP, ELTIP).
The consequence of this recommendation is that schools are able to make a choice. They must be aware of the choices they can make and have the capacity to do a need analysis. Another condition is that there must be a number of CPD modules on different topics available.
2. Develop CPD modules that concentrate on acquiring new teaching skills
The main benefit of CPD is, according to all teachers, knowing and applying more active learning methods in the teaching practice. In most class observations it seems that the CPD courses have mainly been an introduction and trying out of some alternative teaching methods. The next step would be to develop the habit and skill of using more active learning methods. The skills could be related to general and subject methodology skills.
Examples of general methodology skills are:
- How to work with slow learners;
- Lesson planning for large classes;
- Questioning techniques to activate your students;
- How different ways of group work can be organised easily.
Examples of subject methodology are:
- Write in English about daily life with students;
- How to make and use teaching aids in maths for grade 1- 4
3. New CPD modules should be written as self instructional guides, including assessments that can be used independently by work groups with little guidance from supervisors.
If there is more differentiation in the content of the professional development of teachers the organisation of the implementation at school level will have to change as well. It cannot be expected from school teams that they have all the knowledge and skills to guide a diversity of courses. A solution could be to make self instructional materials and assessments. For this purpose the format of distance-education study materials could be used.
4. Each CPD book or module should be accompanied by implementation guides for the mentors and facilitators.
Teachers see the lack of trained facilitators as the main challenge of CPD. This opinion is shared by the woredas. Giving training to the facilitators is one way to solve this challenge and it would be very helpful if supervisors or woredas could give training to facilitators. Another way to assist the supervisors and mentors is to produce manuals for each CPD module. The manual should give practical and detailed hints on the ways in which the mentor can supervise his or her study group.
5. Make all CPD materials digitally available.
One of the constraints often mentioned is not having enough CPD books. More and more schools are getting access to computers and in all cities there are computers and printers accessible. To have the CPD materials – in addition to the paper version - in digital form will be helpful for many teachers, supervisors and other stakeholders. Making it accessible could be done by placing the CPD materials on a website, on CD’s, flash drives or by using other media as audio disks and radio.
6. Continue and strengthen the good effects of CPD (such as learning together and doing action research.
Learning together was valued highly by the teachers. The challenge is to create a climate between teachers in which giving and receiving feedback is perceived as an important skill of the teacher’s profession. For that purpose it will be very effective to continue with organising sharing-experience sessions in schools and interschool visits.
In literature and in the opinions of teachers action research is seen as an important method for teachers’ development. In CPD action research has only been introduced to teachers, it is not an acquired skill and many teachers only made acquaintance with the idea but have not actually tried it out. The results of teachers’ action research could be shared out with colleagues of their own school and in interschool visits with other schools.
7. Review the policy for the portfolio
The energy that is put into writing the portfolio has not brought much effect. The reason is that there is no understanding why the portfolio should be written and how to give feedback. The lack of knowledge is seen at different levels; also Woredas are not fully aware of the background nor have knowledge about the importance and what the format of the portfolio should be.
Another problem related to the portfolio is that in one and the same document two objectives have to be achieved that does not go together well: compulsory assessment of teachers together with documenting of growth.
In a situation where schools can make their own choices about the CPD program there is more need to have a documentation of what CPD activities teachers have been doing and what the outcome is of that.
Some suggestions for reviewing the policy for the portfolio:
- Keep the format as simple as possible – avoid unnecessary writing.
- Divide the portfolio in two separate parts, the assessment part and the part about documenting of professional growth.
- Clarification for stakeholders at all levels about the motivation (why is a portfolio needed), the format and clarification how to give feedback to teachers.
8. A training program should be set up for Woreda and Zone education officers about new CPD initiatives.
One of the main constraints of the education officers is the lack of knowledge about CPD. The need for training is in particular needed when new initiatives for CPD are going to come. The content of the training could be topics like clarification of the background of new initiatives for CPD and the role of Zone and Woreda in the implementation process.
9. A training program should be set up for principals and supervisors about new CPD initiatives.
The principals and supervisors see getting more training about CPD as the highest priority. The role of the principal is crucial in the implementation process. This together with the supervisor having a good awareness about CPD is crucial for a successful implementation. Suggestions for the training program are:
- Rationale and background about new CPD initiatives.
- Assessing learning needs of teachers and making a year program for CPD training.
- Clarification how to choose facilitators and mentors.
- Training on how to supervise facilitators and mentors including the use of the implementation guides.
- Good practice of giving feedback; doing observations and organising inter school visits.
- Responsibilities and tasks of principal and supervisor.
10. Simplify and clarify the guidelines of the cluster system by concentrating on the main objectives
The cluster system has not proven to be essential for facilitating the CPD implementation. The guidelines for the cluster system are not known at different levels. If the cluster system is to be seen as a good support system for schools and for woredas new initiatives need to be taken. At federal level a budget needs to be allocated for realising the core objectives of the cluster. Another initiative that could be taken at federal or regional level is to simplify the guidelines by concentrating on the main objectives of the cluster. From the perspective of this study the main objectives of the cluster are:
- Reduce costs by sharing equipment.
- Organise sharing experience sessions between teachers.
- Save time by creating uniformity between cluster members, e.g on assessments, setting up projects, sports day, etc.