Review of Qatar Education Challenge:
PISA and TIMSS
• Qatar scores in bottom tenth of PISA and TIMSS
countries and jurisdictions. Emirates, Saudi
Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi generally score higher.
(see next slide -- they only took TIMSS)
• Among Qatar students those whose father was
born in Qatar score well below students whose
father was not born in Qatar.
• Female students scored clearly higher than
similar male students.
• Male students with father born in Qatar score
very, very low.
TIMSS 2011: Mean = 500: SD = 100:
400 = 16th individual percentile
Saudi Arabia 410
• Establish clear student and system improvement
• Every goal should have three parts -- a clear
statement, measurable indicators to track
progress, and an implementation plan.
• The following two pages have examples of
student and system goals.
• These are followed by one slide for each student
and system goal briefly describing what needs to
be done to accomplish it and a metric to assess it.
1. Examples of Student Goals
• 1. Productive national citizen: understand Q and world history,
protect environment, practice tolerance and civil commitment,
participate in national improvement.
• 1.5 Productive international citizen: (same goals)
• 2. All students enter kindergarten ready to learn.
• 3. All students graduate from secondary school.
• 4. By 9th grade all students accomplished in Arabic and in English.
Meet international standards for hs graduation.
• 5. Ditto by 12th grade for Math, Science, national and world history
• 6. Be prepared to enter and succeed in college or workforce.
• 7. TIMSS and PISA overall scores gain 75 points (3/4s of a standard
deviation) by 2023. Qatar boys increase by 100 points.
2. Examples of Education system goals
• 1. Create opportunity for all to attend very high quality preschool
for two years.
• 2. K-12 System adopts/adapts high quality standards, aligns
curricula, professional development, and formative and summative
assessments with the standards.
• 3. Teacher training and hiring upgraded and focused on instruction
aligned with the curricula.
• 4. Schools are physically, emotionally and socially safe for students
and teachers. Social capital high.
• 5. Schools and the system improve systematically and regularly over
time on goals for students.
• 6. Any new project or innovation must support the current reforms,
be aligned with teaching etc. It must add value to the current
efforts. No magic bullets!!!
Brief descriptions and metrics for
student goals (see slide 5)
• In this section there is a brief description of
what needs to be done in design and
implementation efforts for each of the student
• Metrics are also included.
1.1 and 1.1.5 Ways to promote
Productive citizen of nation and world
• Create early understanding of nation and world – in K-6
as well as later. Emphasize lessons through stories,
• Follow through more in middle and high school. Watch
Al Jazeera as an homework assignment – report and
analyze world events
• Students offered summer activities and later work that
helps the country.
• Students given the opportunity to spend a semester in
another country while in secondary school.
• Metric: Completion of a quality project and analytic
paper focused on national or international citizenship.
1.2 All students given opportunity to
be ready to learn
• Evidence of need for preschool and other educational interventions
is powerful especially for students who do not get supported
academically at home.
• All students should have a 2 year preschool experience -- strong
focus on language and self regulation and tolerance for others.
Amazing data on long – term effects of preschool in US and other
• Students have well trained preschool staff and teachers.
• Program for parents – how to support children’s intellectual
development in early years.
• Metrics: percentages of children in 1 and 2 years of preschool.
Achievement on readiness assessment given in kindergarten.
1.3 All students graduate
• A simple function for student learning is L=C,T,M -- Learning is a
function of the curriculum/content, the quality of teachers and
teaching, and student motivation!!.
• Other slides focus on C and T. Getting students to graduate (if
expect to require academic competence) is greatly influenced by
• Strategies that are designed to promote grit, the use of coaches as
mentors, careful monitoring of student progress with interventions
when student is slipping, are very important. See Carol Dweck work
on Mind Set.
• Develop alternative pathways in some high schools – technology,
medical fields, marketing, international business etc. – teach core
academic subjects using examples from these areas.
• Metrics: Graduation rates.
1.4 Students competent in Arabic and
• Strong language training in Arabic in preschool and early grades.
Language of instruction. Oral expression, writing, reading fiction
and non-fiction, strong working oral vocabulary leading to strong
• Use best evidence on phasing in English starting with 2nd, 3rd grade.
• Give students experience with English speakers – perhaps as part of
international trip or attendance of some of the many meetings held
by QF in Qatar.
• Integrate use of technology as the tools improve over the next five
to ten years. These could be very powerful. See work at MIT
offshoot on teaching English to Chinese students.
• Metrics: Oral production and reading diagnostic assessments along
the path of school.
1.5 Students competent in Math,
Science, History and Literature
• Challenging courses, strong support for students who have
problems, smart use of technology to help explain and
motivate students all important.
• Make materials relevant – use cultural examples, business
related to Qatar examples, read and write about fiction and
• Use balance of didactic and constructivist teaching: use
problem based learning; group work: cross-age tutoring;
relevant examples and regular papers to write.
• Metrics: Students and teachers tracked using common
formative assessments for selecting teachers and students
that would need support.
1.6 Student prepared to enter college,
• Student passes a graduation test that sets her on
a path to university or a job or a 13th year to
prepare for university. Graduate should achieve a
level of 475 – 525 or more on PISA -- this is long
run goal and should be phased in.
• Alternative pathways should be provided as a
choice for student at age 14 or 15.
• Possibility of a service year before college when
student graduates – powerful mechanism.
• Metrics: graduation test, PISA, TIMSS, how many
in public service.
1.7 Improvement on PISA and TIMSS
• Practice using PISA and TIMSS items. Practice in
3rd and 4th grades and in 7th and 8th grades for
TIMSS. Not to exceed a total of 20 hours of
practice spread over the entire school year. The
format, structure, complexity, and solution
strategies should be covered.
• Ditto on PISA for 9th and 10th grade students.
• The overall reform ought to be enough but the
students should be comfortable with the nature
of the assessments. This should help PISA and
TIMSS scores by 10-20 points.
Brief descriptions and metrics for
system goals (see slide 6)
• This section very briefly describes the steps
that need to be taken to implement the
• Example metrics are also suggested.
2.1 System reform: Opportunity for
quality 2 year preschool
• Phase this in over 4 years. At the end of four years every 3 and 4
year old have a place in a high quality preschool.
• Need to create a quality training program for people to work in the
preschools. Intensively train people who now run preschools –
train new ones – through university? Local NGO?
• Emphasize quality, safe environment, lots of interesting games,
music, fun, language (oral in Arabic), being read to from increasingly
complex texts, students given cooperative activities. Rewarded for
working hard very important -- rewarded for self control, self
regulation – also very important.
• Metrics: Percentage of preschool students, quantity and capability
of preschool teachers, etc.
2.2 System reform: Standards based
• Adopt/adapt high quality standards -- if existing ones are high quality
then review to make sure that they connect together over school years,
are evidenced based, use challenging instructional strategies etc.
• Adopt/adapt two general curricula and supporting materials that are
aligned with the standards – perhaps one traditional and one more
constructivist. Schools can choose among the two approaches.
• ALL teacher training and professional development in instruction and
curricular areas aligned with standards.
• Develop formative assessments aligned with standards to help guide and
support instruction – develop diagnostic assessments to help guide and
• Develop end of year assessments for 3rd, 6th and 9th grades.
• Metrics: At end of three years and six years bring in team to assess quality
and implementation. Every year there should be a 20 page report on
progress to the SEC.
2.3 System Reform: Human Capital
• Develop a clear human capital plan by 4/2014 including a strategy
for getting and training and retaining high quality teachers and
informed and capable principals.
• Have a very high quality pre-service program in QU; clear and
objective criteria and aggressive efforts for hiring high quality
teachers from the outside: high quality coaches for first two years
of teaching or being a principal: yearly video taping and reviewing
of every teachers quality: reward establishment of professional
teacher networks; create a fair parity in pay for in country and out
of country teachers.
• Use formative assessment to help keep teachers aware of the
progress of their students.
• All professional development aligned with curriculum.
• Establish metrics for each of the steps in bullet 2.
2.4 Safe schools for students:
productive schools for teachers
• Students should want to come to school -- feel
psychologically and physically safe. This requires
thoughtful attention to students behavior toward
other students and to teachers, teachers
understanding about how to treat students other
• Social capital – positive and strong relationships
among professionals is very important -- teams,
personal support, etc are critical.
• Teacher attendance, student attendance, etc are
2.5 Continuous improvement in
system and school
• VERY, Very important: The key to improvement is to do
it continuously and thoughtfully -- all effective
jurisdictions have embodied continuous improvement
principles (Finland, Asian countries, effective districts in
US and Canada etc. [a better example for Qatar])
• Plan, enact, measure, revise, enact, measure, revise…
Feedback loops are critical. Listen to students,
teachers, principles -- the need for improvement
should be recognized and supported from the bottom.
• Metrics: achievement, graduation, teacher support,
2.6 System: No more magic bullets
• Settle on standards, curriculum, professional
development strategies, assessments. Improve
them systematically and thoughtfully. Make
them better through listening.
• Incorporate new tools (technology) ONLY when it
provides clear added value to the student
learning and then make sure it works in your
• NO magic bullets -- get rid of most programs that
are on the periphery.