How can teacher careers be reformed? #CIES2017

07 March 2017


What can we learn from looking into performance-based management, motivation and reform processes of teacher careers?

Many countries are undertaking reforms that affect teachers’ careers precisely with a view of improving teachers’ performance and hence education quality. Furthermore teacher wages typically represent the greatest source of public education spending, and therefore it’s an expense worth maximizing.

Research shows that successful education systems value teachers. They consistently attract high quality candidates, use training to develop teachers’ skills, focus on building teacher capacity, and establish career structures that reward good teaching. Zooming in on the organization and management of teacher careers provides useful insights on how to make a teaching career more appealing.

During the upcoming Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, IIEP-UNESCO hosted a panel on Reforming teacher careers: Learning from country experiences.

This panel discussion took as a starting point the results of an international comparative research project on teacher careers. Discussants looked into the desirability of market mechanisms in the organization of teacher careers in light of motivation theories and wider contextual factors.

Based on research by Lucy Crehan on Exploring the impact of career models on teacher motivation, the review looked at whether a change in the administration of teacher career models could improve the quality of teaching in schools by motivating teachers and increasing the appeal of the profession. The findings underline that career structures should be designed in such a way that would encourage autonomous motivation of teachers, while at the same time holding teachers accountable for the quality of their teaching.

Read more about how career structures can improve motivation.

Pablo Cevallos Estarellas from IIEP- Buenos Aires presented lessons learned from Ecuador’s attempt to reform teacher policies. Over the past number of years the country has tried to transform teacher management practices, with the aim to attract (and maintain) the best possible candidates for the teaching career, while restoring the value of public education and professionalizing teachers.

Barbara Tournier provided insights from a mapping exercise conducted in eight countries to collect descriptions of teacher career structures and related implementation challenges. The findings from the mapping exercise highlight key aspects that policy makers need to consider before embarking on teacher career reforms. The results suggest that some ‘pre-requisites of the reform’ are essential for its success no matter which career structure is chosen. Three case studies followed this mapping exercise to find out from teachers how they experience the reforms made in respect to the organization of their careers. 





  • Reforming teacher careers: Learning from country experiences (IIEP)
    Barbara Tournier, Presenter, Pablo Cevallos Estarellas, Presenter, Suzanne Grant Lewis, Chair
    1:15 to 2:45pm - Sheraton Atlanta, 1, Georgia 5 (South Tower)
  • Panel presentations:

Exploring the organisation and management of teacher careers by IIEP-UNESCO

Teacher careers structures - Mapping exercice by IIEP-UNESCO

Teachers careers - Discussion Notes

Learning from Ecuador's attemp to reform teacher policies by IIEP-UNESCO Buenos aires