OECD Report Highlights Policies Supporting US Teacher Professionalism


A new OECD report published today looks at the ways countries prepare teachers to develop the knowledge, skills and practices necessary to be effective educators in the face of diverse challenges.


Supporting Teacher Professionalism” also explores how teacher professionalism is linked to policy-relevant teacher outcomes such as perceived status, satisfaction with profession and school environment or perceived self-efficacy.  


The report looks at support for teacher professionalism across three dimensions: knowledge base, which includes necessary knowledge for teaching; autonomy, or the teachers’ decision-making power; and peer networks, which includes information exchange and support through direct feedback, network of teachers, etc. 


Across all participating countries and economies, school-based teachers’ autonomy receives the least amount of support, whereas knowledge base and peer network indicators show variations in support.

The report finds that teachers whose schools adopt more practices to improve teacher professionalism feel:

  • more satisfied,
  • more capable, and
  • they have a higher status in society.


Key Findings on Teacher Professionalism in the United States*


The United States presents a teacher professionalism model which combines high support for knowledge base and peer networks, but a low support for autonomy:


Knowledge Base


  • 94.9% of US teachers reported participating in a teacher education program (TALIS average: 87.3%) and two thirds (65.4%) reported receiving time release for professional learning (average: 49.6).
  • US teachers are more likely to receive financial support to pay for professional learning (73.9% vs an average of 64% across all countries).




  • Compared with the TALIS average, US teachers report having less autonomy over discipline practices (26.9% vs 39.3%) and over student assessment (25.9% vs 39.2%) than their international peers.
  • The sole area where US teachers reported higher autonomy than the average was over course offerings (39.6% vs 31.5%).

Peer Networks


  • Almost all US teachers (96.7%) receive feedback from direct observations. This is significantly higher than the TALIS average of 75%.
  • While less than half of US teachers (47.4%) participate in teacher networks, they do so in higher numbers than the average of 37.4% across all participating countries.

U.S. Teacher Professionalism Equity Profile


  • Second language students, high-needs schools in the United States do not show significant differences in any of the dimensions, in terms of the support they receive for teacher professionalism.


  • Special needs students, high-needs schools in the United States receive significantly more support for the knowledge dimension and less support for autonomy than low needs schools.


  • Economically disadvantaged students, high-needs schools in the United States do not show significant differences in any of the dimensions, in terms of the support they receive for teacher professionalism.



Policy Implications

Policies supporting teacher professionalism – particularly in schools with high proportions of students who suffer from socio-economic disadvantage – should take into account:


  • Requiring teachers to participate in pre-service formal teacher education programs that expose teachers to pedagogy and provide opportunities for practice teaching;
  • Expanding induction and mentoring programs;
  • Supporting teachers in conducting classroom-based individual or collaborative research;
  • Encouraging teachers’ participation in networks of other teachers for information exchange.


About TALIS:


The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is survey of over 100,000 teachers and 6,500 school leaders in 38 countries and economies, so far, first carried out in 2008. [KK1] TALIS asks teachers and schools about their working conditions and the learning environments. It covers important themes such as initial teacher education and professional development; what sort of appraisal and feedback teachers get; the school climate; school leadership; and teachers’ instructional beliefs and pedagogical practices.


Learn more: http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/talis.htm


*The data for the United States is presented to provide information about the teacher professionalism and school equity levels. However, the data should be interpreted carefully since the United States did not meet TALIS international participation rates. 


For more information on this report please contact Katarzyna.KUBACKA@oecd.org.


 [KK1]34 countries  and economies in TALIS 2013, with 4 additional ones in 2014. TALIS was first administered in 2008


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