Teacher-Led Learning Circles on Formative Assessments: Supporting teachers’ professional development and leadership around the globe

published 5 February 2023 updated 11 October 2023

Education International, the global federation of education unions, is launching the Teacher-led Learning Circles on Formative Assessments project with funding from the Jacobs Foundation. The project aims to provide teachers with tools and support to identify and establish effective teacher-led formative assessment practices that can be disseminated within and across education unions.

Educational transformation requires professional development and teacher leadership

Teachers are the most important factor influencing student achievement. Teaching is highly complex, requiring expertise, professional judgement, and effective practices to meet the diverse needs of students in a range of contexts. In recent years, the work of teachers has further intensified with the need to support diverse, multicultural, multilingual, and mixed ability student populations and to teach students to learn and be equipped to succeed in a world with rapid development of technologies, geo-political instability, climate crises, and changing global and local economic and employment opportunities.

The impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic has further changed and challenged teachers’ work. Periods of school closure, remote learning, and the mental and physical health impacts of the pandemic have had profound consequences for students’ learning, equity, and well-being, with similar impacts on educators as well. In the current global context, it is essential to provide professional development to support teachers’ leadership and expert use of formative assessment to identify students’ learning needs and to provide feedback to improve their progress.

The Teacher-led Learning Circles project aims to support teachers’ professional development, teacher leadership, and an inquiry process for teachers to apply, reflect on, and adapt formative assessment practices in their classrooms.

Teachers in the lead

The project research framework, supported by a literature review that contextualises the importance of formative assessment and a student-centered, learning-to-earn approach in the classroom, puts the teacher in the driving seat.

The approach draws heavily on the Education International Global Framework of Professional Teaching Standards and the latest Global Report on the Status of Teachers that called for a new ‘intelligent professionalism’ for teachers. Teachers who inhabit their own professional autonomy, assisted by their unions, are able in turn to support their students to develop resilience and enable them to learn for life.

Identifying and globalising best practices

The Teacher-led Learning Circles project will operate across classroom, national, and international contexts over the next three years. The project will run in seven countries, with the support of Education International member organisations:

  • Brazil - Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE)
  • Uruguay - Federación Uruguaya de Magisterio - Trabajadores de Educación Primaria (FUM - TEP)
  • Côte d’Ivoire - Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Primaire Public de Côte d'Ivoire (SNEPPCI)
  • Ghana - Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT)
  • Malaysia - National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP)
  • South Korea - Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union (KTU)
  • Switzerland - Dachverband Lehrerinnen und Lehrer Schweiz (LCH)

In each country, the project will support three Learning Circles over one school year. Each Learning Circle will be comprised of ten teachers, two local facilitators, and one local union representative. In total, the project will include 21 Learning Circles, 210 teachers, 42 local facilitators, and 21 local union representatives.

At the international level, the Jacobs Foundation and Education International will foster regular exchanges between teachers regionally, nationally, and globally through in-person and virtual sessions, including regional hubs.

The findings and most effective practices identified will inform the work of Education International member organisations operating in 178 countries and territories and organising over 32 million teachers around the world.