Elige Educar (EE) was created as a result of the realization that Chile’s highest-need public schools receive the lowest-quality teachers, and that teacher quality in general is low due to the fact that teacher training programs fail to attract the best students. Along these lines, EE promotes two goals: First, to combat the societal devaluation of teaching as a profession by making it an attractive career choice and second, to encourage high-performing students to become teachers.
Elige Educar pursues its mission through four activities:
1. Attraction: EE attracts students scoring in the top 30% on university entrance exams to teacher training programs through two fully-funded scholarships: Beca Vocación de Profesor (a publicly funded grant awarded to 3,000 high performing students annually) and Beca Fundación Futuro (a year-long grant for talented professionals seeking to change careers). EE recruits applicants through school visits conducted by “intervention teams” of university students currently enrolled in teacher training programs, phone calls, and mass media campaigns.
2. Training and Retention: EE scholarships are tied to a network of 25 universities with high-quality teacher training programs as well as 250 “vulnerable” public schools serving low-income students. As a precondition, scholarship recipients are required to teach in these schools for three years after completing training. EE is currently in the midst of working with partner universities to improve their teacher training programs and raise entrance standards.
3. Research: EE evaluates internal performance and uses its findings to inform future policy proposals.
4. Communication: EE aims to change society’s negative perception of teachers through extensive media campaigns (videos, TV ads, a weekly radio show, etc.) to promote the value of teaching and inform national debate.
What is innovative about Elige Educar is its successful partnership with the Chilean government (in addition to private corporations, media outlets, NGOs, and universities). For example, EE worked with the Ministry of Education to create the publicly-funded Beca Vocación de Profesor grant. In 2012, EE convened public and private partners to create a proposal which served as a framework for a government bill improving the working conditions of teachers. Through public-private partnerships, as well as links to an extensive network of stakeholders, EE has been able to achieve sustainable change on a national scale.
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CEI approaches in action
Scholarships are not tied to income level, only academic performance. However, Elige Educar has partnerships with 250 high-needs public schools in Chile serving mainly low income students (these are schools which EE identified as having the most potential for change). As a requirement, scholarship recipients must teach in one of these schools for three years after graduation. By relying on its extensive network of partners, EE creates a pipeline to channel the best students into some of Chile’s most underserved public schools.
3,000 students per year have received Elige Educar scholarships to enter university teaching programs (almost 8,000 to date). Roughly 15,000 secondary school students are reached by EE’s activities. EE has sent 250 of its scholarship recipients into high needs public schools to teach after graduation; in 2 years they expect that number to reach 3,000. EE has had more than 450 media appearances (press, radio, and TV). EE has now created a a network of 259 underserved secondary schools that benefit from the placement of recipients of EE's teacher training grants, and a network of 25 different universities working together to improve the quality of their teacher training programs. In 2012, EE visited 226 schools, talked with 8,273 students to attract 12th graders to enter the teaching profession, and provided personal mentoring by phone to 7,356 secondary school students (38% of which afterwards enrolled in teacher training programs).
Monitoring & Evaluation
A central objective of Elige Educar is to enhance the public image of the teaching profession. In order to design a metric for this, EE partnered with the market research and public opinion company, Adimark GfK. They jointly developed a survey, now called the Elige Educar Index, to measure national perception of the teacher profession through measures such as interest in joining teacher training programs and the social value attached to teaching. This allows EE to assess and monitor its impact on a national scale.
EE also profiles the academic ability of students that enter teacher training programs by tracking their scores on the national university selection test (PSU). PSU scores have increased since EE’s founding, and EE's long term goal is to have all teacher training students be in the top 30% of PSU scorers.
EE also conducts its own online surveys among select groups of secondary school students taught by the recipients of EE's teacher training grants. EE also monitors its success in targeting high achievers as recipients of its grants by evaluating their performance over time and conducting focus groups throughout recipients' time in college and during their first years as teachers.
Standardized Assessment Performance - Other | The average PSU (university admissions test) score of students entering university teacher training programs in Chile has gone up since Elige Educar's founding. The percentage of students scoring in the top 20% on the PSU has increased by 68% between 2010 and 2011 (when the EE scholarship was implemented).
8,273 secondary school students participated in talks organized by Elige Educar during 2012. All students were surveyed at the end of each visit to assess their satisfaction with the activity and perception of teaching. 78% of students said the activity improved their image of teachers in Chile, 71% said it helped them to appreciate their own teachers, and 68% said it motivated them to look into university teacher training programs. (January 2013)
According to a national public opinion survey, social prestige of the teaching profession increased by 11% for 18-24 year olds between 2009 and 2011. (Adimark GfK, December 2012)