Teacher Professional Standards for South Africa

It is widely recognised that improving the quality of teaching and learning is essential to address this education crisis and several initiatives are being undertaken to develop Teacher Professional Standards (TPS). As a contribution to these initiatives CDE commissioned research on the development of TPS in a range of developed and developing countries. Set within a theoretical framework of the South African schooling cycle, the research findings provide insights into the conditions under which TPS in South Africa might serve to raise school performance. Click here for full the report.




A BALANCING ACT: Assessing the quality and financial viability of low-fee independent schools

Low-fee independent schools (LFIS) are a growing phenomenon in South Africa. In many parts of the country, they offer an alternative choice of education to poor communities, they address the lack of public schools, offer access to better quality learning, and fulfil parents’ desire for schools with a religious affiliation or alternative philosophies not provided for by public schools. In South Africa, as elsewhere, there is growing interest from investors and donors to support these schools or invest in them.

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THE REAL COST OF COMPLIANCE: THE IMPACT OF SOUTH AFRICAN REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS ON INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

The private education sector has grown virtually across the board in developed and developing countries. Internationally, governments are making greater use of private participation in education to assist in meeting their education policy objectives. As part of an overall reform strategy for South Africa’s ailing education system, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) has become increasingly interested in the potential of low-fee independent schools to provide quality education to disadvantaged learners. In its latest research publication, the CDE explores the cost facing these schools of complying with regulatory requirements.
 
 

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Varsity fee protests suggest need for more private players | Moneyweb

South Africa should learn from Brazil, where the availability of higher education has been significantly boosted by a rapid growth in private higher education institutions, argues Ann Bernstein. Read more at Moneyweb here.




TEACHER EVALUATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES AND SOUTH AFRICA: What works?

The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) today released a report, Teacher Evaluation in South African Schools, as the third in a series that explores the connection between teacher evaluation, teacher effectiveness and student achievement. From its international and local research, CDE raises major doubts about South Africa’s new Quality Management System (QMS), which is in the wings awaiting implementation. CDE questions whether it should be implemented as it is unlikely to produce greater teacher effectiveness or higher learner achievement. Similarly, it finds that the recent Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) system for managing educators’ professional development is unlikely to achieve these goals. Yet given the poor quality of teaching and learning achievement in most South African schools, improving them is national priority.

CDE points out that the fundamental flaw in the QMS is that it separates educator performance assessment from professional development. The schools would no longer have a responsibility to support individual teachers’ learning. This would be left to the self-reflection and initiative of each educator, who could earn the required 150 professional development points over three years from certain activities, and courses on the central CPTD database.

Earlier this month CDE released its second report, Teacher Evaluation: Lessons from other countries. The international survey found that an integrated teacher evaluation model, which combines well-designed teacher performance-based assessments with productive feedback and high-quality professional learning opportunities, can increase both teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

In the words of Professor Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University, an international expert on teacher policy brought to South Africa by CDE: “If such a model uses multiple measures to assess the quality of teaching and closely links feedback from the assessment to job-embedded professional learning that meet individual teachers’ needs, research has shown that it can both predict and increase teacher effectiveness and student learning.”

In its South African report, CDE provides an analysis of the evolving policy framework for teacher performance appraisal and professional development in South Africa, using international best practice as a reference point. From interview research, the perspectives of government, unions and other key stakeholders, as well as school leaders’ experience of the current Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) for performance appraisal and development, are also presented. “Although the school sample was small and the results are not generalisable to either sector, rich illustrative insights were obtained from five relatively well-resourced public schools achieving good results and five well-resourced, high-quality independent schools”, explained CDE’s Education Programme Director, Dr Jane Hofmeyr.

CDE’s analysis reveals that the IQMS for public schools is deeply flawed, as all key stakeholders recognise. Even in the sample of good public schools, as a result of a lack of capacity and the IQMS’s huge administrative demands, it has become largely a compliance exercise, to the neglect of professional development. By all accounts, it has not improved accountability or teaching, but it has increased educator scepticism of quality management.

Although CDE found no examples of international best practice in the public schools, it did find them in the independent schools, which have the freedom and capacity to innovate and implement their own appraisal models. They value the teacher appraisal process, yet indicate that it can take five years to embed it in an established school. The schools prioritise professional development over accountability and have found that it becomes a drawcard for recruitment and retention.

CDE’s research produced other important insights. Pay was not seen by principals as a performance incentive. Independent schools have the freedom to appoint the best teacher for their needs, but public school principals felt they had little control over teacher appointments. Dismissal of persistently non-performing teachers was very rare in public schools and last resort after remedial action in independent schools. Consequently, ‘re-allocation’ of poor teachers to less important subjects and good teachers to critical subjects happened in public schools, and to some extent in independent ones. As Jane Hofmeyr asks, “If numbers of teachers are not teaching in their areas of specialisation what are the quality implications?”

CDE argues that although the QMS may be seen as better than the current IQMS, neither it nor the CPTD system are good enough be fully implemented, given the cost and effort involved. Indeed, against the negative history of quality management in public schools, might they do harm?

 

The full report can be obtained from the CDE website. For further information, please contact Dr Jane Hofmeyr (082 784 9190) or Buhle Hlatshwayo (078 340 2772)

 

About the CDE:

For 20 years, the Centre for Development and Enterprise has been gathering evidence, consulting widely and generating constructive policy recommendations to meet South Africa’s core socio-economic challenges. It has an exceptional track record in presenting sound ideas based on scholarly and stakeholder contributions, focused on South Africa, but always within an international context. CDE advocates a high-growth and labour intensive economic strategy reliant on market-based solutions.

The organisation’s convening power brings together cabinet ministers, MPs, senior officials, business leaders and experts (local and international) in frank discussions about moving the country forward. There are few other organisations whose conversations, discussions, and workshops on the country’s most important and often the most controversial issues can span such a wide range of diverse and senior participants.

CDE works in three core areas: jobs and growth, education reform and scouring international experience to influence domestic policy. The organisation has a special focus on the role of business in development.




TEACHER EVALUATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS

  

This CDE publication is the third in a series on the lessons for South Africa from international and local research on teacher evaluation as a means of improving teacher effectiveness. The first CDE publication in 2012 examined the international experience of teacher pay for performance initiatives and found that there was no consistent evidence that they improved learning outcomes.

Accordingly, in 2014, CDE decided to investigate teacher evaluation more broadly across a wide range of countries to explore the connection between teacher evaluation, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement. The key finding was that well-designed performance-based assessments, which assess on-the-job teaching based on multiple measures of teaching practice and student learning, can measure teacher effectiveness. An integrated teacher evaluation model which combines these assessments with productive feedback and professional learning opportunities can increase teacher effectiveness and student achievement (see CDE’s 2015 report, Teacher Evaluation: Lessons from other countries).

This report, the final in the series, examines teacher evaluation policy in South Africa and looks for best practice, using the international findings as a reference point. From interview research we present key stakeholders’ perspectives on the evolving policy framework and how school leadership in a small sample of public and independent schools experience teacher appraisal and professional development.

CDE’s analysis reveals that the current policy is deeply flawed, resulting in very limited implementation in those public schools interviewed. We identify some examples of best practice in the sample of innovative and well-resourced independent schools. These findings and CDE’s international research raise fundamental questions about the new performance-based teacher appraisal policy (the Quality Management System, or QMS) that is in the wings, as well as the new system for managing professional development. Are they good enough to significantly improve teacher effectiveness and learning achievement?

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Teacher Evaluation: Lessons from other countries

  

Research has identified effective teachers as the most critical factor in determining student achievement. Countries around the world have focused on teacher evaluation as a process that can be used to both assess and improve teacher effectiveness, through strengthening accountability and supporting the professional development of teachers. In South Africa this is a pressing issue.

This CDE publication is based on research that explores the connection between teacher evaluation, teacher effectiveness and student achievement across a wide range of countries. It reveals different approaches, common trends, best practice, important debates and valuable lessons for South Africa.

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Investing in schools: Opening bell rings | Financial Mail

CDE’s work on the private education sector in Financial Mail’s cover story.

This expansion trend has caught many off guard. Jane Hofmeyr, policy and advocacy director at the Centre for Development Enterprise (CDE), says the private-education sector is not well researched or understood. “But there is considerable potential … every week I hear of new players, local and international, coming into the market looking for opportunities in SA and Africa.”

 

Read it online here.




INVESTING IN POTENTIAL: The Financial Viability of Low-Fee Private Schools in South Africa

Low-fee private schools (officially known as ‘independent schools’) are growing rapidly in South Africa. The interest of corporate and philanthropic investors in ‘affordable’ independent schools has given rise to key questions: Is it worth investing in low-fee independent schools? How financially viable are they? What is needed to ensure they offer quality education and are financially sustainable?

This report outlines the findings of CDE’s analysis and modelling of the financial viability of low-fee independent ‘stand-alone’ schools and chains of schools to determine the key factors that influence financial viability. CDE’s modelling points to the potential of low-fee independent schools to provide affordable, good quality schooling to poor communities on a sustainable basis.

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MEDIA RELEASE: THE FINANCIAL VIABILITY OF LOW-FEE PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN SOUTH AFRICA

In a report released today, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) explores the financial viability of low-fee independent schools charging fees below R12,000 a year. These schools are growing rapidly and currently educate an estimated 250,000 learners across the country, providing access to good education where there are no, insufficient or dysfunctional public schools in disadvantaged communities.

The research was a response to the increasing interest of investors and donors in these schools: “Are they worth investing in?”, “Are they financially sustainable?”, “What is needed to ensure they offer quality education?”

CDE analysed and modelled financial information from 23 registered, ‘stand-alone’ low-fee schools and four chains of low-fee schools to determine the key factors and requirements that influence their financial viability – defined as a school’s or chain’s ability to generate sufficient income to meet its operating expenses and other financial obligations.

“Our modelling points to the positive potential of low-fee independent schools to provide affordable, good schooling to poor communities on a sustainable basis. Two types of financially viable, hypothetical low-fee schools were identified: a ‘no-frills’ primary school that offers a good but basic education; and a secondary school which delivers quality schooling through innovative teaching and learning methods,” explained CDE’s Education Programme Director, Dr Jane Hofmeyr.

The findings show that the state subsidy is critical for the survival of low-fee schools. Their main sources of income are school fees, state subsidies and, in a few cases, donations.

Both the hypothetical schools would only be viable as stand-alone ones if they were not-for-profit and thus able to qualify for a state subsidy. They would need to charge fees of R11,700 a year (in 2013), obtain a 40 per cent subsidy, and enrol some 600 to 700 learners by their third year of operation. They would then be able to repay a loan of some R30 million at 5 per cent interest over 20 years.

Economies of scale make a significant difference to the operational costs of low-fee schools. If stand-alone schools were part of a chain of three schools with centralised administration, they could reduce costs and become more viable.

In the case of for-profit low-fee schools, a chain of 10 schools with centralised administration would be viable if every school charged annual fees of R11,700 and enrolled some 600 learners. This would enable it to cover the finance costs of a 20-year loan of R30 million at 5 per cent interest.

“We found that the schools charging fees below R6,000 a year were typically survivalist, living from month to month, not knowing whether they would be able to meet their financial obligations”, Hofmeyr said. However, many of these schools had existed for a number of years, even though they did not meet the requirements of the models, which were based on conservative cost assumptions. “These schools survive because they provide good education, although they are located in basic rented premises, are poorly resourced and pay low teacher salaries.”

CDE cautions that potential investors need to take into account a number of challenges and risks in establishing and operating low-fee schools. For example, teacher salaries must be adequate to prevent high staff turnover. Changes in the government regulations, new compliance costs and bureaucratic inefficiency in registering or subsidising a school can cause major financial problems.

To enable low-fee schools to become more financial stable and provide affordable, quality education to poor communities, CDE recommends a number of reforms by government and interventions by the private sector.

Government:   By simplifying the maze of legislation affecting independent schools and developing more supportive policies that still ensure sufficient accountability, government would reduce the heavy compliance costs of schools. Increasing the state subsidy for not-for-profit low-fee schools would enable them to charge lower fees and serve poorer communities, at a lower cost to government.

Private sector: There are multiple ways in which investors and donors could strengthen this sector, explained Hofmeyr: through public policy engagement for regulatory reform; establishing new schools and helping existing ones to expand with affordable loans; funding key components of their quality and financial viability, providing technical expertise; and funding research which will support quality improvement, innovation and sustainability.

“In the context of a struggling public schooling system, the development and expansion of independent schools serving poorer communities is a positive trend that needs greater support and an enabling policy environment,” concluded Hofmeyr.

The full report and Executive Summary can be obtained from the CDE website: www.cde.org.za.

 

For further information:

Buhle Hlatshwayo: 078 340 2772

Dr Jane Hofmeyr: 082 784 9190

 

About the CDE:

For 20 years, the Centre for Development and Enterprise has been gathering evidence, consulting widely and generating constructive policy recommendations to meet South Africa’s core socio-economic challenges. It has an exceptional track record in presenting sound ideas based on scholarly and stakeholder contributions, focused on South Africa, but always within an international context. CDE advocates a high-growth and labour intensive economic strategy reliant on market-based solutions.

The organisation’s convening power brings together cabinet ministers, MPs, senior officials, business leaders and experts (local and international) in frank discussions about moving the country forward. There are few other organisations whose conversations, discussions, and workshops on the country’s most important and often the most controversial issues can span such a wide range of diverse and senior participants.

CDE works in three core areas: jobs and growth, education reform and scouring international experience to influence domestic policy.

The organisation has a special focus on the role of business in development.