In an elementary school in Cairo, Egypt, Majida teaches Arabic to a class of 65 third graders. Today, her principal has joined her class. She will observe the activities Majida has prepared, make notes on how her students respond and interact with each other, and collect information to later compare Majida’s teaching to objective standards for quality instruction.
The principal is using an instrument called SCOPE, or the Standards-Based Classroom Observation Protocol for Egypt. Developed by EDC, SCOPE is a tool that helps instructional leaders track teachers’ performances over time as they master new ways of teaching and engaging students.
For Majida, the information may be used to create her own personal professional development plan or help determine whether or not she will be promoted to a higher rank. In a more general application, it may help tailor staff development plans in her school or district.
“SCOPE helps educational leaders—such as principals, subject supervisors, and district training staff—articulate what they want to see happen with teachers’ professional development,” EDC’s Rachel Christina. “It’s helping to move teacher supervision from a periodic inspection system that penalizes teachers, to a more supportive system where educators engage in a continuing dialogue around practice and re-evaluation.”
SCOPE is the product of a partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Egyptian government. As part of the Egypt Education Reform Program (ERP/EQUIP1), now in its final year, EDC developed classroom resources; trained teachers to encourage students’ active learning and critical thinking; and trained instructional supervisors to support teachers as they moved away from the more traditional model of lecture, memorization, recitation, and testing.
Developed by Dr. Fouad Abd El Khalick, SCOPE evaluates teachers’ classroom performance in areas such as effective use of instructional time, ability to promote problem solving and critical thinking, and skill in fostering a collaborative and equitable learning environment. It also examines how the classroom is organized and equipped, asking questions such as: How many students are in the classroom? Are seats fixed in rows or are they moveable? How available are materials and instructional technologies?
According to Christina, SCOPE has been well received by teachers, administrators, principals, and supervisors alike. “It puts in very clear terms what good teaching practice looks like,” she explains. “And it helps the people who support teachers provide them with training, resources, and coaching. It gives everyone something to shoot for.”
Currently, researchers are using SCOPE to track teacher performance changes related to the four major USAID-funded education programs in Egypt. SCOPE also serves as the basis for the national classroom observation instrument used by Egyptian supervisors, as well as the promotional assessment that will be the core of the new Egyptian teacher career ladder.
The research behind SCOPE is also informing EDC teacher development projects in other parts of the world. It is currently being implemented in localized forms in the Philippines, Benin, Liberia, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We’ve seen teachers in Egypt improve significantly against the items that we’re measuring,” says Christina. “What’s interesting is that those items are pretty universal in terms of what research tells us works in classrooms and leads to improved learning. Implementing similar tools in other contexts will allow us to draw conclusions more broadly and comparatively about what works and doesn’t work in our particular approaches to teacher capacity building.”
ERP/EQUIP1 is funded by USAID. EDC works as a subcontractor to American Institutes for Research, along with partner World Education.
Originally published on April 15, 2010