Teacher Quality Impacts Student Performance in United Arab Emirates

Analysis of results of an international assessment that took place in 2011 shows that the majority of public school teachers in United Arab Emirates do not have a degree in education, Noor Nazzai reports for Gulf News. The analysis was first made public during the Policy Forum sponsored by the Ministry of Education earlier this week.

The goal of the forum was to carry out a full analysis of the assessment data to recommend policy solutions to the problems plaguing UAE’s public education system and to improve student outcomes all over the country. Forum participants pointed to inadequately trained teachers as one of the reasons behind student performance gaps.

The international assessment tests discussed and analyzed at the forum included: the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).

“These tests are important as they act as indicators that reinforce the ministry’s efforts and help in creating policies aimed at developing the education sector. The UAE did receive the highest rank on the level of the region but we still have to improve certain areas that still need work,” said the Minister of Education Humaid Al Qatami.

Performance of UAE students was the best of all Arab countries that took part in the TIMSS, PIRLS and PISA, but compared to the global student population the country ranked lower than average — it came in 40th place out of 60 countries assessed.

The analysis of the results showed a strong correlation between student performance and teacher performance. The finding wasn’t surprising; considering that students spent more more 850 hours a year with their teachers, any instructional shortcomings are sure to leave a mark.

International educator, academic and researcher Mike Helal, Director of Parkville Global Advisory, Mena stated: “The assessment tests found that the majority of Emirati students, especially males were low and average performers. In the same time, five to six per cent of Emirati students were outperforming in comparison to international standards. This can be attributed to the fact that the majority of teachers in public schools do not have qualifications or degrees in education which causes a gap in the performance of students.”

Helal also recommended that education researchers try to pinpoint what additional factors contribute to wide performance gaps between Emirati students, especially boys. In addition, Helal called on the Ministry to change its teacher recruitment policies in order to attract and retain more qualified teachers. Considering how closely student outcomes tracked with teacher quality, according to Helal, that could be one of the most effective ways to narrow performance gaps quickly.