Working with teachers in classrooms to build bottom-up evaluation practices in Brazil

published 25 July 2023 updated 3 August 2023

On the 25th and 26th of July 2023, the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment project held an in-person seminar in collaboration with the Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE) for all participants based in Brazil. The meeting, held in Brasilia, was a powerful representation of what teachers and unions can do when they come together.

It was clear from the start of the seminar that participants were eager to learn from each other’s diverse experiences experimenting with formative assessment practices in classrooms across the country. From indigenous teachers to those teaching in Quilombolo schools, the inclusive reach of the programme across the whole of Brazil was strongly felt and expressed not only at the beginning of the seminar but throughout the two-day meeting.

The first day of the seminar commenced with presentations from a range of individuals. Opening the meeting, Heleno Araújo, President of CNTE, thanked everyone for coming and noted the importance of the opportunity for CNTE to be the first to shape formative assessment “to oppose an external evaluation or an evaluation that comes from the top down” in Brazil and beyond.

The project’s national researcher in Brazil and Director for Institutional Cooperation, International and Innovation in the Lula administration, Dr Dalila Andrade Oliviera, next reiterated the sentiments expressed by Heleno, emphasising that the learning circles project allows teachers and unions to shape learning and development from the bottom-up by working “with teachers in the classroom.”

The importance of giving teachers professional autonomy to develop formative assessment practice through the project was later underscored by Professor João Horta, a researcher at INEP, since in his opinion the Basic Education Evaluation System that has been in force since 2018 does not consider the diverse regional realities of Brazil.

Through putting people who have the necessary knowledge in control of processes, Martin Henry, Research, Advocacy and Policy Coordinator at Education International, summarised that the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment project was a unique form of pedagogical activism that:

  • Allowed unions and teachers to work together to define formative assessment;
  • Countered top-down approaches by identifying practice from the bottom-up;
  • Acknowledged that teachers work better with their peers;
  • Created a space for facilitators to lead and support the reflection process;
  • Promoted formative assessment that is focused more on learning than on reporting.

Emphasising the advocacy strand of the project, Guelda Andrade, vice-President of CNTE, underscored that this unique form of continuous professional development must respect teachers’ time to overcome the impact of the pandemic on literacy rates. To ensure that learning circles do not become an additional form of unremunerated labour for teachers in Brazil, all levels of government must provide institutional time for continuous professional development. This, Guelda underlined, would have a distinct impact on women, since most teachers in Brazil, as well as in the project, are women.

The speakers' presentations were followed by a series of interventions by teachers as well as training sessions and workshops that gave participants the space to reflect on their learning circle journeys.

Photos from the seminar are available to be accessed here, a second news item on teachers' reflections in the seminar can be read here, and a news item written by CNTE about the event is available to view here.

Want to find out more? Continue to keep up to date with project activities in Brazil as well as developments across our six other project countries by visiting our dedicated project page.