Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education

Dutch education authorities are striving to ensure high student performance by raising teachers' professional qualifications and enhancing their teaching skills.

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Boosting teacher skills in order to maintain and raise students' performance

Quality of education ranks high as a social concern in the Netherlands. Education policy is a subject of constant public debate. Although Dutch school students are among the top performers in OECD countries, recent international assessments have indicated some slippage. As a main element in its policy response, the government has launched a drive to raise teaching standards and the professional qualifications of teaching staff.

The Dutch are looking to professional teacher organizations to play a key role in this process. Schools in the Netherlands enjoy extensive autonomy, with 86% of decisions taken at the school level, the highest proportion in OECD countries. The role of the Ministry of Education is limited to setting standards for teacher qualifications and organizing national tests and examinations at, respectively, the end of primary and secondary schooling. It seeks to work closely with teacher organizations to implement and monitor the effectiveness of policies.

As part of the drive to raise teaching standards, teachers are increasingly being encouraged to learn from their colleagues through a process of peer reviews. In parallel, teachers are progressively being required to join a national teacher registry, run by a body formed by teacher organizations to monitor professional qualifications.

Candidate teachers are being encouraged to study for a Master's degree, and the responsibilities of the government school inspectorate are being extended to include the assessment of teachers' skills. Other strategies include adapting content and teaching methods to meet the needs of specific student groups, including both those with learning difficulties and high achievers.