TALIS - The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey



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 assessment, but a self-reported survey.

Teachers’ and principals’ answers are then analysed. First, TALIS helps policy makers to review and develop policies that promote the teaching profession and the best conditions for effective teaching and learning. Second, TALIS helps teachers, school leaders, and education stakeholders to reflect upon and discuss their practice and find ways to enhance it. Third, TALIS builds upon past research, while informing the future work of researchers.
TALIS is a periodic survey: after its first two successful cycles in 2008 and 2013, TALIS 2018 is the third cycle of the study and the following cycle will take place in 2024.

Who are the stakeholders?

TALIS is the outcome of a collaboration between 48 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.

Which countries and economies participate in TALIS?

The first cycle of TALIS was conducted in 2008 in 24 countries. The second cycle, TALIS 2013 – included 38 participants (34 participants in 2013 and 4 additional participants in 2014 and 2015). TALIS 2018 has expanded to include additional countries, bringing the total number of participants to 48 countries and economies.

In 2018, 15 countries and economies surveyed teachers and school leaders in their primary (ISCED level 1) schools, 11 did so in their upper secondary (ISCED level 3) schools and 9 countries conducted the survey in schools that participated in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) through the TALIS‑PISA link option.

The main survey (ISCED level 2) has been conducted in 31 OECD countries and economies – Alberta (Canada), Australia, Austria, Belgium (the Flemish Community of Belgium also participated as a sub-national entity of Belgium), Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England (United Kingdom), Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Non-OECD member countries who participated in TALIS are –  Brazil, Bulgaria, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Croatia, Cyprus,[1],[2],[3] Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malta, Romania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Shanghai (China), Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei,[3] the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.

[1] Note by Turkey: The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

[2] Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union: The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in  this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

[3] Participation through the IEA International Study Centre

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. TALIS results are based exclusively on self-reports from teachers and school leaders and, therefore, represent their opinions, perceptions, beliefs and accounts of their activities. No data imputation from administrative data or other studies is conducted. Giving a voice to teachers provides insight into how they perceive the learning environments in which they work and how policies that are put in place are carried out in practice. But, as with any self-reported data, this information is subjective and may, therefore, differ from data collected through other means (e.g. administrative data or video observations). The same is true of school leaders’ reports about school characteristics and practices, which may differ from descriptions provided by administrative data at a national or local government level.

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 and the European Commission. Input is also received from the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC).

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 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 International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP). 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 or on 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?

The third cycle of TALIS, referred to as TALIS 2018, took place in 48 countries and economies from the fourth quarter of 2017 to mid-2018. The steps preceding the publication of the main results were as follows –  all national centres entered and verified the data they collected; then the international consortium built the international database, complemented by adding survey weights and constructing relevant scales and indices; and finally the OECD Secretariat analysed the data and published Volume I of the TALIS 2018 Results report – Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners. Volume II will be released in March 2020.

TALIS 2018

What are the topics addressed in TALIS 2018?

Nine main themes were selected for inclusion in the TALIS survey: teachers’ instructional practices, school leadership, teachers’ professional practices, teacher education and initial preparation, teacher feedback and development, school climate, job satisfaction, teacher human resource issues and stakeholder relations, and teacher self-efficacy. Two cross-cutting themes were added to this list: innovation, and equity and diversity. More information on the conceptualisation of the eleven themes can be found in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 Conceptual Framework.

What are the main topics covered in Volume I of TALIS 2018 results?

TALIS aims to contribute to the debate about teaching as a profession. The key topics examined in Volume I of the TALIS 2018 results, Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, are related to the knowledge and skills dimension of teachers’ and school leaders’ work. It looks at how teachers apply their knowledge and skills in the classroom in the form of teaching practices, the demographic makeup of classrooms shaped by student diversity and the demographic and experience profiles of teachers and school principals. It also looks at the initial training provided to teachers and school leaders, as well as the activities they undertake for continuous professional development.

What should audiences expect to look forward in Volume II?

Furthering the debate about teachers’ and school leaders’ professionalism, Volume II of the TALIS 2018 results, Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, will focus on prestige, career opportunities, collaborative culture, and professional responsibility and autonomy.

How many teachers and school leaders responded to the TALIS 2018 survey?

TALIS was answered by over 260 000 teachers and 15 000 school leaders from lower secondary, primary and upper secondary education levels. This sample of respondents is representative of more than 8 million teachers in 48 countries and economies from all continents.

What kind of analyses are presented in TALIS 2018 results report?

TALIS 2018 uses descriptive analyses as well as breaks down results by school and teacher characteristics. This allows for data comparisons between different groups of teachers (e.g. experienced and novice teachers) and different groups of schools (e.g. rural and urban schools). It also offers the opportunity to compare results between primary, lower and upper secondary education levels for specific countries as well as trend analyses for a set of indicators.

What kind of trends are presented in TALIS 2018 results report?

The 2018 cycle is the third round of TALIS. Therefore, it is possible to capture some trends on key indicators of TALIS by comparing the 2018 data with that of 2013 and 2008. Some of the key trends presented in Volume I of TALIS results are change in the use of classroom time and teaching practices, teachers’ working hours, change in the demographics (age and gender distribution) of teachers and school leaders, change in school climate, change in the professional development needs of teachers, changes in barriers to teachers’ participation in professional development, etc.

What are the policy priorities for TALIS 2018?

TALIS is focused on the following policy priorities of education systems – attaching high-achieving candidates in the profession; providing quality initial and continuous training to newly recruited teachers and in-service teachers; support teachers in the continuous development of their careers and spread good practices; foster job satisfaction and status of the profession, with a view to retaining quality teachers and school leaders.

What are the main takeaways for policy from TALIS 2018 results?

Talis 2018 identifies the following policy goals for attracting and selecting high-calibre candidates into teacher education and leadership preparation

      • monitor workforce dynamics and develop a diverse workforce
      • enhance the prestige of teaching careers as a key element of their attractiveness

Talis 2018 identifies the following policy goals for developing teaching professionals through high-quality pre-service preparation and in-service professional development

      • provide high-quality initial education or pre-service training to future teachers and school leaders
      • provide high-quality continuous professional development, with a focus on high-need areas
      • lift barriers to participation in professional development

Talis 2018 identifies the following policy goals for supporting teaching professionals’ growth through induction, mentoring and collaboration

      • provide novice teachers and newly appointed school leaders with tailor-made support
      • make the most of teachers’ time to support quality teaching and the use of effective teaching practices
      • foster a school and classroom climate conducive to student learning and well-being
      • develop a collaborative culture within schools
      • foster mentoring and peer feedback as key attributes of professional work

Talis 2018 identifies the following policy goals for empowering teaching professionals through autonomy and leadership and opportunities for career progression

      • foster leadership at all levels of the system
      • make the most of school leaders’ time to foster instructional leadership
      • link appraisal with teachers’ career progression

Talis 2018 identifies the following policy goals for retaining teaching professionals through fulfilling and rewarding work conditions, well-being and satisfactory jobs

      • build a motivated and efficient teacher and principal workforce through attractive working conditions
      • reduce stress and enhance well-being
      • foster the intellectual fulfilment of the profession to boost job satisfaction
      • boost teachers’ sense of fulfilment through enhanced self-efficacy

Can researchers and data analysts use TALIS data?

TALIS data is available for download and use by interested researchers and data analysts working in the disciplines of social science and education. In addition to the international and national datasets, TALIS online tables available on OECD.Stat, the TALIS 2018 Technical Report, the OECD Education GPS and Compare your country can aid researchers and data analysts to pursue further research using the TALIS data.

Please note that some variables are still under embargo and will be released with Volume II of the TALIS results in March 2020. Consult the distribution of questions between volumes for more information.



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