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Posts by Jeff Puryear

Nicanor Restrepo Santamaría: Business Leader Committed to Education

By Jeffrey Puryear

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Nicanor Restrepo Santamaria, one of Latin America’s most distinguished civic and business leaders and a major figure in the business-for-education movement, died recently in Medellin, Colombia. As president of Suramericana de Inversiones (now Grupo Empresarial SURA), Restrepo played a crucial role in establishing a nationwide network of business leaders committed to improving education, and education policy. The business-for-education network soon spread to nearly all of Colombia’s departamentos and became a strong voice for improving education policy in the country. Read more


Producing High-Quality Teachers in Latin America

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By Jeffrey Puryear

We are pleased to share with you our most recent PREAL Policy Brief, “Producing High-Quality Teachers in Latin America.” The brief reviews the global debate on how to produce high-quality teachers, and connects that debate with conditions prevailing in Latin America. It discusses diverse approaches to the selection of teacher trainees, the content and regulation of training programs, and the assessment whether trainees are competent to teach. The brief summarizes some of the most commonly recommended strategies, and argues for an experimental, results-oriented approach.

Photo credits: l’interrogazione /  mbeoCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (with modifications).

Escuela Activa Urbana Promotes Non-cognitive Learning

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By Jeff Puryear, Felipe Barrera-Osorio, and Maria Cortelezzi

Nobel Prize winner James Heckman has noted that non-cognitive skills (i.e., social and emotional skills) are crucial in determining the success of young people, and that public education tends to ignore this fact.

The Urban Active School (Escuela Activa Urbana, EAU) in Manizales, Colombia targets non-cognitive skills. Read more

The Legal Battle Over Teacher Tenure

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By Jeffrey Puryear

A recent California court decision on teacher tenure, dismissal and seniority may have signaled a greater role for civil society and the courts in the battles over education reform in the United States. Read more

A Conversation with the Minister of Education of Finland

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I recently had the privilege of commenting on a presentation at the World Bank by Finland’s minister of education, Krista Kiuru. For me, this was a dream come true. Finland’s much-praised success in providing high-quality education to all students, rich or poor, has prompted policy wonks all over Latin America (and the world) to ask how they did it. Everybody wants to be like Finland. Read more

Education Reform in Rio de Janeiro: A Model for Reformers?

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I recently had the opportunity to hear Secretary of Education Claudia Costin speak about the series of reforms implemented in Rio de Janeiro’s education system since 2009. The Rio approach—system-wide reform with a strong focus on results—appears to have had significant positive outcomes and may offer useful lessons for reformers elsewhere in Latin America.

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Decision to Cancel Mexico’s 2014 Student Achievement Test Sparks Debate

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The Mexican government recently announced it was cancelling the 2014 application of its national standardized achievement test, ENLACE, which has since 2006 evaluated the performance of all primary school students in reading, math and other subjects. Read more

Latin Countries Outpacing Peers in Education Advances

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A recent Harvard University study found that Chile and Brazil are among the three countries that have raised student learning at the fastest rate between 1995 and 2011 (Latvia was the other). Each improved three times faster than the average of the 49 countries included in the study. Read more

Parents: The Difference between Microsoft and Schools

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I wonder whether Bill Gates, in his recent op-ed arguing against making public the results of teachers’ individual performance assessments (as New York City has begun to do), leaves out an important point. Read more

Study: Teachers’ “Value-added” has Life-long Impact

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Following up on the article we shared last week on the value-added approach to teacher evaluation in Washington, DC, a recent New York Times article, along with a column by Nicholas Kristof, report on a new study that examines whether the value-added approach effectively distinguishes between good and bad teachers, and how much impact those teachers have on students. Read more