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May 18, 2016

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World Bank gives city educators top marks

SHANGHAI students’ stellar performance on international tests is linked to a strong education system and great teachers, according to a report released by the World Bank report at a global conference on basic education, which kicked off in the city yesterday and will run until tomorrow.

The report, “How Shanghai Does It: Insights and Lessons from the Highest-Ranking Education System in the World,” was produced based on educational policies, school-based surveys and existing research data, such as the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global assessment of 15-year-olds’ educational abilities, according to the World Bank Group.

As local students have topped two consecutive rounds of PISA tests, the report attributes Shanghai’s success to making and implementing plans carefully, and focusing on improving teaching and instructional excellence.

“One of the most impressive aspects of Shanghai’s education system is the way it grooms, supports and manages teachers, who are central to any effort to raise the education quality in schools,” said Xiaoyan Liang, the report’s lead author.

Teachers in the city go through rigorous pre-service training and are well supported with ongoing professional development activities, the report said.

On average, teachers in Shanghai spend about a third of their time teaching in class and the rest preparing lessons, grading homework, observing and mentoring other teachers, and engaging in other forms of professional development.

They are also evaluated systematically, rewarded for good performance, have opportunities to move up the ladder based on merit, and are led by principals who are themselves instructional leaders.

Shanghai also has clear learning objectives and standards, well-aligned curriculum, compact and affordable teaching and learning materials, as well as efficient assessment systems for all grade levels, which provide teachers with an effective framework.

The way Shanghai pulls up the performance of weaker schools is also interesting, according to the report. While education financing is decentralized to the district level, the city government reserves a portion of the education tax and redistributes it with an emphasis on poor and low-performing districts.

Also, Shanghai has introduced an “entrusted school” management model to ask high-performing schools providing management and professional support to low-performing schools. The city government backs up this arrangement with substantial financial transfers based on performance.

The report also notes that the city has been making a serious effort to bring quality education within everyone’s reach. Among its 1.2 million basic education students in 2013, nearly half were children of migrant laborers.

About 77 percent of them were placed in public schools and the rest received subsidies to attend private schools.


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