Over nearly two decades, PREAL has sought to improve the quality and equity of education through better policy and practice. It has pursued that goal by establishing partnerships with a broad range of high-level government, academic, civil society, and business leaders to promote informed debate, identify and disseminate best practices, and monitor progress toward learning goals. PREAL publications are widely read and discussed, cited in research and policy documents, and used in university courses. A combination of conferences, publications, databases, education report cards, regional working groups, national policy campaigns, research competitions, and study tours have helped PREAL and its partners place new issues on national policy agendas and develop common ground on reform.
PREAL has substantially changed the discourse on several key topics (standards, assessments, accountability) and helped place learning squarely at the center of the education debate. It has helped non-governmental organizations in the region increase their knowledge of key education topics and provide advice to ministers on important policy issues. At the same time, it has reminded governments that their performance is being monitored, producing over 30 report cards and supporting national coalitions in their push to ensure government compliance with education commitments. Most recently, PREAL has worked with UNESCO and the Educational and Cultural Coordination of the Central American Integration System (CECC/SICA) to help countries discuss ways to modernize their approach to teacher policy in areas such as training, assessment, and management.
Given this experience, we asked ourselves whether there were any lessons that might be useful to others seeking to improve education outcomes by improving policy. More specifically, what might PREAL’s experience suggest about strategies to raise levels of learning given the growing global emphasis on this topic?