Teaching Around the World: What Can TALIS Tell Us?

Teaching Around the World:  What Can TALIS Tell Us? cover
December 18, 2014
Linda Darling-Hammond
Dion Burns

The Teaching and Learning International Survey of 2013 (TALIS)—representing the views of teachers and principals in lower secondary schools from 34 jurisdictions around the world—tells us a great deal about the conditions for teaching in different countries today and what these may mean for the future of the teaching force and the quality of teaching.

Perhaps in part as a function of recent economic downturns, shortages of personnel and materials are noticeable in many countries. Equitable teacher distribution is also problematic in some countries. In 13 jurisdictions, experienced teachers were much less likely to work in schools with more disadvantaged students. We found a significant relationship between class sizes and teacher shortages across countries.

One of the most surprising findings from TALIS was that on average, less than a third of teachers (31%) indicated that the teaching profession is valued in their society. Across TALIS jurisdictions, the proportion of teachers who have completed a teacher education program is very high. On average, 90% of teachers had completed a program. Across TALIS jurisdictions, the proportion of teachers who have completed a teacher education program is very high. On average, 90% of teachers had completed a program. 

Collaborative and effective professional learning opportunities were found to be associated with teachers’ practices, especially with respect to those that encourage what are commonly referred to as “21st century skills” — problem solving, inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration, for example.

While most teachers agreed that they experienced "a collaborative school culture characterized by mutual support," there were noticeable differences in the degree to which principals and teachers reported this kind of climate. In recent years, a number of nations have placed more emphasis on teacher appraisal. Nearly all teachers in TALIS jurisdictions (93%) receive some kind of formal appraisal. 

The data in TALIS 2013 provide important insights into the policies that can support and strengthen teaching and lead to high-quality learning for students. Among these policy implications are the following:

  1. Communicate value for the profession of teaching by recognizing teachers’ professionalism and involving teachers in decision-making.
  2. Ensure adequate and equitable resources to address current shortages of teachers, support personnel, and instructional materials. 
  3. Establish incentives to ensure an adequate supply of teachers for all fields and communities, including special education teachers and teachers in schools serving disadvantaged students. 
  4. Provide comprehensive, high-quality preparation in content, pedagogy, and classroom practice to support active teaching strategies, teacher efficacy, and student achievement.
  5. Support induction for novices with the funding and support structures that can ensure mentoring, collaborative planning opportunities, and learning supports. 
  6. Provide time for collaboration and professional learning so that teachers have opportunities to observe and receive feedback from peers and improve their instructional practices. 
  7. Encourage high-quality professional development relevant to teachers’ needs, which can promote collaborative school practices associated with teacher self-efficacy and job satisfaction.
  8. Identify potential leaders and provide them with training as instructional leaders, so that they can promote improvement in teaching and a climate of mutual respect in schools.
  9. Encourage distributed leadership and shared decision-making, which enhances collaborative practices and both principal and teacher job satisfaction.
  10. Center teacher appraisal and feedback on improving teaching quality and link them to high-quality professional learning in order to enhance teachers’ skills and self-efficacy.