Argentina: The state of teacher policy

This post is also available in: Español 

The Argentine education system, which previously has been a model of inspiration for other countries, today finds itself challenged by diverse sectors of society. The educational trajectory of most students is still far from ideal, particularly for young people from the most vulnerable social conditions, and the results of standardized learning evaluations show low levels of performance, especially in this population. All of these challenges indicate the need to update, redesign and reform the norms and practices in the teaching field, which would require a dramatic restructuring of the system based upon quality assurance and strengthening inclusion.

This report (available in Spanish) from the Education Program at the Inter-American Dialogue PREAL evaluates the current state of teacher policies in Argentina and offers a set of recommendations for addressing existing challenges and bottlenecks.

Key Recommendations

  • Reformulate teacher evaluations. The existing mecanism for teacher evaluation is largely ineffective and does not either individual or collective responsibility for results. More autonomous schools, with publicly-available and rigorous data on their activities ought to open space for evaluations and self-evaluations that can serve as inputs for improving education. This requires leaving the punitive framework of the current teacher "qualification" and entering a professional one in which school directors have the precise and balanced tools for evaluating their teams.
  • Improve the quality of teacher training. Teacher training, which occurs in provincial, university, state and private centers and institutes, requires a quality assurance of educational services: the institutional format (universities or other higher education) does not guarantee per se the training of the best educators. It's necessary to specify a strategy change to generate initiatives from the provinces to improve labor and training conditions.  
  • Simplify the work schedule. The work day, which has multiple formats and depends upon the personal schedule put together by each teacher, without minimum requirements for time or results, ought to be simplified via a process in which employers can clearly states the expected work schedule and accompanying salary.
  • Ensure a quality education for the most needy. The educators with more experience and qualifications should teach in the most disadvantages schools, a situation which is much improved by the current teacher statutes. If implemented immediately, the statutes would benefit the most socioeconomically vulnerable students and set the foundation for accountability for results.  
  • Effective school leadership. School directors should participate in the teacher onboarding process to maintain transparency in public sector appointments: it's not possible for directors to have no other option than accepting those named to their teaching staff. Under the current criteria, it's impossible to build contructive, collaborative and cohesive teams.


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Failing Grade

The goal of education is to promote learning. Sitting in classrooms is a weak proxy for knowing how to read, do math, and apply science. Latin America needs to worry less about schooling and more about learning.

˙Jeffrey Puryear