03 SES 09 A, Nation-wide Curriculum Change and the Role of Pilot Schools
Kosovo established, and pilot tested a new curriculum from 2013 to 2017 with a country-wide implementation begun in the fall of 2017. Four grades (K,1,6 & 10) in all curriculum subject were involved in the first-year, country-wide roll out of the new curriculum. Complete implementation of the curriculum in all grades and all schools is scheduled for the spring of 2020. A review of the process of implementation was begun in 2017 with a goal of improving the curriculum, the training process, and teacher implementation during the second and third year of implementation. Lessons learned from the first year of implementation shaped the implementation and training in the following year as mid-course corrections were used to improve the effectiveness of the implementation. This paper describes the status of the implementation.
The update the curriculum brings it in line with the current European and world standards which, over the last 30 years, have changed goals, activities and outcomes of education in many countries. These intended changes were accelerated by the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report on student performance in Kosovo. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) volunteered to participate in PISA in 2013 and the completion of the tests in 2015 was the country’s first round in the testing regime. Of the 72 participating countries on the 2015 science test, Kosovo finished above only Algeria and the Dominican Republic with 378 points against the average for all countries of 493. This weak performance sent shock waves through the country although MEST indicated it was in line with their expectations.
Balkan Insight (2015), citing Andreas Schleicher, the Division Head and Coordinator of OECD-PISA, in an article said that “it is problematic that the most disadvantaged students in some countries scored higher than the most privileged students of Kosovo.” Schleicher went on to say that improvement is possible. And that lowest performing country in PISA, Brazil, became one of the most improved education systems in the world. MEST remains optimistic and looks to improved results in the 2018 testing sessions.
The cause for optimism, according to Kosovo’s Minister of Education are reforms in different fields such as text books revision, curricula revision, and a new system of teacher evaluation as the elements underway in Kosovo to improve results. The evaluation of the initial implementation of the new curriculum, the contribution of the reforms, and shifts in the implementation based on feedback is the focus of this evaluation study as an attempt to assess the current level of implementation, respond to the needs of the teachers, and recommend next steps to assure an effective long-term implementation.
The evaluation uses a mixed methods’ design to examine both the four-year pilot and the first-year implementation. The data collection includes interviews, focus groups, participant observations, surveys and reviews of curriculum and training materials. Grounded theory forms the major analysis and where appropriate, statistical analysis for survey data is applied. The pilot sample included over 90 schools throughout the country. To examine the impact at the school level, four pilot schools were selected for unscheduled visits to gain first-hand information regarding the implementation of the new curriculum. Interviews were conducted at two schools in urban settings and two in small towns to determine the degree of implementation and issues that schools might face with a nationwide implementation. Faculty and students from two elementary and two secondary schools were interviewed in focus groups. . Additional interviews occurred with administrators were part of the process. The interviews were based on a series of questions related to the status of the pilot (e.g.: What has worked? What are the challenges for the students? What are the differences between the new curriculum and old curriculum? and Is the new curriculum more effective than the old one in promoting student learning?) as well as anticipation of scaling up the efforts in the pilots to all schools in the country what concerns did they have for the expansion. The group interviews included more than 40 students and 50 teachers who participated across the four sites. School personnel volunteered their responds to the questions in focus group settings and could build on or refute each other’s remarks. Major points voiced by the participants at the sites included needs for additional training, developing basic texts and materials, moderating the pace of the instruction, and making recommendations for future implementation efforts. The evaluation of the first-year nation-wide implementation includes surveys and interviews as well as continued reviews of the curriculum framework and lesson plans developed in the field. It is anticipated on-site interviews will be undertaken in the spring of 2018. To increase sources of additional data, feedback was collected from trainers of the curriculum and administrators as well as participants in training sessions. Further sources for evaluation include publications, staff meetings, additional school visits and formal and informal discussions with MEST staff. Data from the first year of the nation-wide study will be analyzed and included in the paper.
Overall, the pilot was considered a success by preponderance of the participants in the training sessions, however several areas of concern were identified and can inform and potentially improve future implementation. The positive reactions included a recognition of the improved quality of the curriculum the greater alignment with international standards, and the support received by the pilot schools during the initial implementation. A major impediment to implementation was the lack of materials linked to the new outcomes of the curriculum. The curriculum standards include elements of content pedagogy related to student-centered curriculum that are distinctive from current teacher practices across Kosovo. The lack of these materials in the courses and the lack of substantive training to implement the curriculum endanger an effective implementation of the curriculum. The scaling up of the implementation revealed additional challenges that were not as critical in the pilot program. There are few resources at the national level to work with schools and teachers on adapting the materials and curriculum into the schools. The linkage between the national leadership of MEST and the schools can be enhanced through the integration of the municipalities into the scaling-up process. This shift faces the challenge of assuring that the municipalities have the capacity to offer services in teacher training or other supports to the district. The inclusion of the entire country in the implementation may lead to other challenges. Currently pilot schools have an incentive to participate in the process of implementation with additional resources and personnel. This incentive will be reduced significantly for the country-wide implementation. The question of duration of the implementation period and the intensity needed to create change have to be examined during the period of implementation.
Bicaj, A. & Berisha, F. (2013) Teacher preparation reforms in Kosovo. Journal of Education Culture and Society No. 1. Pp. 199-208. Date Accessed 1/23/2018 https://data.oecd.org/eduresource/teachers.htm#indicator-chart Department of Human Rights. (April, 2009). Kosovo non-majority communities within the primary and secondary educational systems. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: Mission in Kosovo. Gjinovci, R., Kosovo’s education system amongst worst in the world, Balkan Insights, 06/12/2016. retrieved 1/21/2018 ______________, (May 2014). Kosovo in PISA 2015: The effect of students’ assessment on education quality. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. ______________, (2011). Curriculum Framework for Pre-University Education in the Republic of Kosovo. Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Pristina, Kosovo http://www.ibe.unesco.org/curricula/kosovo/kv_alfw_2011_eng.pdf Retrieved 1/23/2018. ______________ (July, 2016) Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021, http://www.kryeministri-ks.net/repository/docs/KOSOVO_EDUCATION_STRATEGIC_PLAN.pdf Retrieved 1/23/2018. Ikemoto G., Steele, J. & Pane, J., (2016) Poor Implementation of Learner-Centered Practices: A Cautionary Tale, Teachers College Record Vol. 118, 13, , p. 1-34. http://www.tcrecord.org/library ID Number: 20563, Date Accessed: 3/15/2017 10:10:09 AM Perez, D., (June, 2016). Ministry of Education Needs Assessment: TEYL Pilot Program & New Kosovo Curriculum Framework. U.S. Embassy, Pristina, KETNET & Georgetown, CIED
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