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Teaching Quality Counts: How Student Outcomes Relate to Quality of Teaching in Private and Public Schools in India

Teacher education and training, Teaching Methods

Renu Singh and Sudipa Sarkar

Young Lives, 2012

Abstract:

This mixed-methods paper investigates whether the ‘private school premium’, as manifested in student learning outcomes, is the result of better-quality teaching in private schools. Using school-, community- and household-level data from the Young Lives longitudinal study in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, this paper makes a detailed comparison of 227 government and private schools attended by the children in the sample. We use detailed information on school-based components and information from classroom observation, as well as household- and individual-level information and qualitative interviews, for our analysis.

We look at the effect of teaching quality on children’s test scores, controlling for lagged test scores of children and for several household-, child-, class- and school-level characteristics. The results from our regression analysis suggest that children in private schools have a significantly higher (at 1 per cent) mathematics score than children in government schools. A key finding is that specific teacher characteristics and practices have emerged as important factors in determining children’s learning outcomes. While standard characteristics of teachers like experience, gender, content knowledge and subject specialisation do not have
any significant influence on children’s learning outcome, teaching practices such as regularity in checking homework and factors such as the proximity of the teacher’s residence to the school and teachers’ attitude towards the children, as well as teachers’ perceptions of their schools, have emerged as important determinants of students’ test scores. In short, it is what the teacher ‘believes and does’ in the classroom that has the maximum impact on children’s learning outcomes.

Another key finding of our analysis is that the students of teachers with professional qualifications have significantly higher outcomes (at 10 per cent in value-added specification) than children taught by teachers with only senior secondary education. Students of teachers with Bachelors or Masters degrees in Education do not have significantly better outcomes than those taught by teachers with general degrees, after controlling for other factors. This has significant implications for policy formulation regarding teacher recruitment and pre-service teacher training, as well as the development of regulatory frameworks for both the public and private education sectors, in light of the Right to Education Act, 2009. There is a need to shift from a focus on pure credentials, such as education-related qualifications, to an examination of the content and process adopted by pre-service training courses, with a view to enhancing teachers’ competencies in effective instructional strategies, so that students get the instruction they deserve. Setting standards for teaching and learning, to create appropriate benchmarks for both government and private schools, is the need of the hour and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

To read more: http://www.younglives.org.uk/files/working-papers/wp91-singh-sarkar

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