The forthcoming 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals are likely to place a greater emphasis on the critical and unaddressed issue of classroom and school quality to promote learning in primary education. The measurement and improvement of quality will also be central as preprimary and secondary education expand in low-income and conflict-affected countries. Existing research has not yet focused on how schooling can support the well-being of children in these contexts. This reflects a critical information gap. Existing evidence confirms that schooling can provide social opportunities to engage with peers, normalcy through regular routines, and a sense of social value as a child begins to identify as a “student”. Understanding the importance of the classroom setting as well as teacher professional training on student academic achievement can produce a wealth of critical information on how to better define goals and to appropriately and more effectively allocate resources in the classroom. Finally, and most importantly, classroom observations of social processes can provide a much-needed context through which we can understand the academic outcomes of students – critical information that, until recently, has been unrecognized in favor of structural and economic considerations.
Teacher Instructional Practices and Processes System (TIPPS) is an observation tool that aims to understand the quality of the classroom environment. The tool emerged, in part, from the Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ) intervention trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which seeks to improve the academic and social-emotional outcomes of children living with conflict. Nested in Global TIES focus on settings, TIPPS is concerned with the nature of classroom processes. Ongoing work in Uganda has refined the tool and provided important information on validity. TIPPS is planned to be rolled out and tested in several other Global TIES projects across contexts (Ghana, Pakistan). The ultimate goal is to have a strong assessment tool to use in 1) impact evaluations; and 2) implementation studies to inform quality improvement and scaling; and 3) a tool for governments, administrators, and NGOs involved in education to use for teacher training, support, and supervision.
We are rigorously and systematically field testing across countries and contexts in order to refine TIPPS as a culturally and developmentally appropriate instrument. Additionally, the application of advanced statistical methods is allowing us to demonstrate the validity and reliability of the instrument across the various contexts. We are actively engaging with fellow researchers, multi-lateral agencies, NGOs, governments, and communities to ensure buy-in and support for TIPPS. We will become increasingly involved in the capacity building and training for the use of TIPPS by other research teams and practitioners to enable the use of TIPPS as both a research as well as a teacher professional development tool.