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Professional development

No matter how good initial teacher education is, it cannot be expected to prepare teachers for all the challenges they will face throughout their career. Effective induction and mentoring programmes can help new teachers deal with these challenges and avoid some of the problems that may emerge (European Commission, 2010). Participation in such induction and mentoring programmes is not common in Latvia, however. Latvian lower secondary teachers reported limited support mechanisms for new teachers, with low levels of participation in induction and mentoring programmes in 2013. For example only 36% of Latvian lower secondary teachers reported having participated in a formal induction programme in their first regular employment as a teacher, compared to a TALIs average of 49%. Among teachers with 5 years experience or less, the figure was only 26%, compared to 52% on average in TALIs countries. only 4% of Latvian teachers reported that they had an assigned mentor to support them, and 7% that they had served as one. These shares are smaller than the averages of 13% and 14% respectively for TALIs countries (oECD, 2014c).

Teachers and school leaders in Latvia are required to undergo at least 36 hours of professional development training every 3 years, which is low compared with many oECD countries. For example, in Estonia lower secondary teachers are required to have a minimum of 160 hours of professional development over 5 years (oECD, 2014a). In Sweden teachers are entitled to 104 hours of professional development during regular working hours every year (OECD, 2015c).

In Latvia, professional development courses are offered in the form of “A” and “B” programmes. The shorter courses, nationally referred to as “A programme” courses, are designed to cover specific training needs (e.g. pedagogical knowledge, use of new technologies) and are offered by various state and non-state providers, in co-ordination with the local government and often also with the teachers’ methodological associations.

The government is also attempting to broaden teachers’ specialisations through longer university-based professional development programmes, the so-called “B programmes”, leading to qualifications in a second subject or education level. Professionals and graduates of other programmes may join the profession through participating in a competitive programme (“Mission Possible”) or by acquiring the necessary pedagogical knowledge (MoES, 2015).

Self-reported data from the TALIS 2013 survey shows that almost all lower secondary teachers in Latvia (96%) had undertaken some professional development activities in the 12 months prior to the survey, which was higher than the average of 88% across TALIS countries (OECD, 2014c). Lower secondary teachers most frequently reported participating in courses or workshops: 89% reported that they participated in these activities, compared with 71% on average across TALIS countries. Teachers in Latvia reported spending 8 days on courses and workshops during the 12 months prior to the survey, the same as the average across TALIS countries.

Teachers’ professional associations could play an important role in fostering instructional improvement and teacher collaboration within and across schools. Although the review team was informed that many teachers join professional associations where subject teachers come together to share information between themselves, TALIS found that Latvian teachers participate less frequently in collaborative professional development, joint activities and classroom observations within schools than their peers on average in countries participating in TALIS (OECD, 2014c).

There are no specific requirements for school leaders to attend development training before or after taking up their duties and 27% of Latvian lower secondary school principals said they had never participated in a school administration or principal training programme, much more than the TALIS average of 15%. Some higher education institutions have in recent years established specific school leadership programmes, such as the Riga Teacher Training and Education Management Academy or the University of Latvia in Riga.

Further, research shows that professional development needs to go hand in hand with appraisal and feedback practices (OECD, 2005; Schleicher, 2011, 2014). In Latvia this connection seems underdeveloped. Over four out of ten teachers (44%) report that appraisal and feedback has little impact on their teaching in the classroom. This finding may partially result from the Assessment System of Teacher Performance implemented in 2009 which is primarily designed as a performance-based pay system, rather than being geared towards supporting the development of teachers (Box 3.1). In addition, the apparently limited capacity of school leaders to conduct appraisals may be further challenged by the absence of a formal framework of professional standards spelling out what is considered effective teaching and leadership in Latvia.

Box 3.1. The Assessment System of Teacher Performance in Latvia

In 2009 MoES implemented a new teacher appraisal system, the Assessment System of Teacher Performance, a performance-based pay system, in the framework of the European

Social Fund project Promotion of Educators’ Competitiveness within the Optimisation of Educational System. Participation in this scheme is voluntary but most teachers (27 592 by 31 May 2015) from ECEC to upper secondary education have participated in it so far.

Teachers are assessed on five key areas weighted according to their relative importance: 1) teaching and educational work (e.g. planning, student performance), 36%; 2) individual work with students, 17%; 3) contribution to the development of the educational institution, 28%; 4) accumulation and transfer of experience and knowledge, 15%; 5) self-reflection and participation in activities to improve pedagogy, 4%.

Box 3.1. The Assessment System of Teacher Performance in Latvia (continued)

Teachers receive a grade ranging from 1 to 5, with 5 being highest. Grades 1 to 3 are assessed at the school level, with the decision taken by the principal based on the commission’s proposal according to defined criteria within the five key areas. If a teacher performs very well and is judged suitable for grade 4, the case is presented to municipal officials who evaluate the assessment and the salary premium that goes with it. If a teacher performs exceptionally well (grade 5) the case for the award of this grade is brought to MoES. The qualification level is valid for five years, but teachers may ask for their performance to be re-evaluated after three years in order to receive a higher level certification. The different performance levels, evaluating bodies and their financial implications are summarised in the table below.

Performance

level

Decision

level

Financial reward as percentage of monthly min salary

Amount of monthly bonus as of August 2014 (EUR)

Number of teachers awarded this level between 2009 and 31 May 2015

Percentage of teachers awarded this level between 2009 and 31 May 2015

1

School

---

---

578

2%

2

School

---

---

6 071

22%

3

School

8%

31.87

18 096

66%

4

Municipality

20%

79.68

2 533

9%

5

MoES

25%

99.60

314

1%

Source: OECD (2014a), Teacher Remuneration in Latvia: An OECD Perspective, OECD Publishing, Paris, www.oecd.org/edu/OECD%20Review%20of%20Teacher%20Remuneration%20in%20Latvia_ OPS_FINAL.pdf

 
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