Early childhood and schools



What is TALIS?

The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is the first international survey that provides a voice to teachers and school principals, who complete questionnaires about issues such as the professional development they have received; their teaching beliefs and practices; the assessment of their work and the feedback and recognition they receive; and various other school leadership, management and workplace issues. TALIS relies on teachers' and school leaders' expertise as professionals to describe their work situation as accurately as possible, as well as their experiences in and feelings about their schools and working conditions. It is not an assessement, but a self-reported survey.

Teachers’ and principals’ answers are then analysed in order to inform education policies that promote the teaching profession and enhance teaching quality. Cross-country analysis of this data allows countries to identify other countries facing similar challenges and to learn from other policy approaches.

TALIS is a periodic survey: after its first two successful cycles in 2008 and 2013, it will be implemented again in 2018 and the following cycle will take place in 2024.

Who are the stakeholders?

TALIS is the outcome of a collaboration between more than 45 participating countries and economies, the OECD, an international consortium, Education International (representing teacher unions) and the European Commission. It also benefits from the input of other social partners, such as UNESCO.

Why is TALIS questionnaire-based?

The aim of TALIS is to produce rich and reliable information on the whole population of teachers and principals in a given country. Therefore, it collects a wealth of information from a nationally representative group of teachers and principals, in a timely fashion. To this end, TALIS sets a minimum sample size of 4 000 teachers and 200 school principals per country and asks participants to complete a detailed questionnaire. There are minimum response rates of teachers and principals to attain in order to ensure the collection of high-quality data.

How are the questionnaires developed? What sort of consultation process does this involve?

Two questionnaires are developed in TALIS: a teacher and a principal questionnaire. The goals of and the themes included in the questionnaires are identified by the TALIS Governing Board, which is comprised of participating countries and economies, Education International (representing teacher unions worldwide) and the European Commission.

The development of the questionnaires is undertaken by a Questionnaire Expert Group (QEG), managed by the TALIS consortium. The QEG develops a conceptual framework that guides the questionnaire development. Upon countries’ approval of the conceptual framework, the QEG translates the goals and priorities into survey questions.

Questionnaire development has three major phases: a pilot, a field trial and a main survey. The pilot study is conducted in a large number of participating countries and consists of collecting feedback on the draft questionnaires from teachers and principals convened in focus groups. The main goal of the field trial is to collect quantitative information about the statistical and psychometric properties of the questions in all participating countries, for example, to check whether questions measure the same concepts across all countries and are properly translated. After each phase, the draft questionnaires are revised and reviewed by the QEG and approved by the participating countries. Upon approval by the TALIS Governing Board, their final versions are used in the main survey.

Through all of this process, relevant social partners are consulted and provide feedback on the development of the conceptual framework and the questionnaires.

Can countries add their own questions to the survey?

The themes covered in the TALIS questionnaires are those themes identified as priorities by participating countries and economies through a priority rating exercise (for TALIS 2018, this was conducted in 2015), as well as those identified by the ministers of education in the latest International Summit of the Teaching Profession. Beyond these common priority themes, a country has the possibility of adding its own questions to the survey. To ensure the international comparability of the questionnaire, national extensions and adaptations are kept to a strict minimum and require review and pre-approval by the Consortium. No question can be dropped, which is why some questions may seem less relevant in a specific national context.

What is the selection process for the schools, principals and teachers that participate in the survey?

The international target population for TALIS consists of schools providing lower secondary education, as well as their principals and teachers. TALIS countries and economies can also opt to survey primary and upper secondary teachers and principals. To enable comparability of education systems, the international target population of TALIS excludes some special schools, such as schools exclusively for adult education or for students with special needs. From the national lists of eligible schools, TALIS randomly samples 200 schools per country, and then selects 1 school leader and randomly samples 20 teachers in each sampled school. OECD recommends that participation in this survey is voluntary and any individual may withdraw from the survey at any time.

How are teachers’ and principals’ answers collected? Are they confidential?

The selected teachers and school principals are asked to answer a teacher or a principal questionnaire. The questionnaires are administered on line on, or paper and their completion requires between 45 and 60 minutes.

All information that is collected in this study is treated anonymously and confidentially. While results are made available by country and, for example, by the type of school within a country, neither the teachers, the school principals, the schools nor any school personnel can be identified in any report of the results of the study. In addition, no staff member within the school has access to the answers provided by a colleague.

How are the answers analysed?

Once the questionnaires are completed, the information they contain is put into computer data files in which the answers of survey participants are anonymous and each survey participant is assigned an identification key. All national data files are assembled by the consortium to create two international databases, one containing all participating teachers’ responses, and another one containing those of all participating principals.

The data are then analysed by a team of policy analysts under the supervision of the OECD Secretariat. The analyses conducted on these very large databases mainly consist of computing percentages of teachers reporting certain information in each country or on average across all countries. Correlation and regression analyses are also conducted to estimate possible relationships between certain factors and some scales combining responses from several questions are also computed. The results of the analyses are then published in TALIS reports.

Can the data be used for assessing teachers’ or principals’ individual work or for accountability purposes?

The answer is a clear "No". Such a use of the data would require being able to identify schools, teachers and principals in the databases, which is not possible. A school, a teacher, or a principal is always treated as an anonymous data point among hundreds of thousands other data points. TALIS cannot and does not intend to provide the results for any individual school, teacher or principal.

What is the timeline of the current TALIS cycle?

‌After its first two successful cycles in 2008 and 2013, the third cycle of TALIS, referred to as TALIS 2018, will take place in more than 45 countries and economies from the fourth quarter of 2017 to mid-2018. The questionnaires combine aspects of the 2008 and 2013 surveys with new aspects developed for 2018, such as innovative practices, teachers' stress and well-being, or teaching in multicultural settings. Many steps will need to be completed before the publication of the main results one year later, mid-year 2019: firstly, all national centres will enter and verify the data they collected; then the international consortium will build the international database; it will then complement it by adding survey weights and constructing relevant scales and indices; and finally the OECD Secretariat will analyse the data and prepare reports presenting the results. Overall, it will take one year for the analysis to be published.




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