…those failing to meet standards might have to leave the profession

Yangchen C Rinzin  

The government approved an additional allowance of 10 percent for teachers categorised as proficient, 15 percent for accomplished, and 20 percent for those assessed as distinguished teachers.

This is apart from teaching allowances ranging from 35-55 percent approved for teachers in 2019.

However, to be eligible for the additional allowance, teachers need to go through an assessment to meet certain standards based on Bhutan Professional Standards for Teachers (BPST) which categorises a teacher’s career into four distinct stages.

These stages will determine the basis to distinguish their professional growth. The standards are: Beginning, Proficient, Accomplished, and Distinguished teachers.

The Ministry of Education has implemented the BPST in all schools from this year.

Deputy chief programme officer Rinchen Dorji said that with the implementation, the ministry will assess teachers for the Proficient standard first, where if a teacher meets the standard, they will get the Proficient allowance of 10 percent from 2023.

All teachers will be assessed for the Proficient standard over the entire next academic year.

Proficient teachers independently apply effective teaching strategies, classroom management skills, and the use of learner assessment data, according to the BPST.

The BPST was supposed to have been implemented in 2020 but could not be because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rinchen Dorji said that teachers will be assessed after the third year of their career (teachers who have served for three years), and as for now the assessment will only be for the Proficient standard.

“When a teacher meets the Proficient standard, it will indicate that the teacher is independent, confident in using pedagogy without the support of seniors, or not dependent on others to teach students,” he said. “It will show that a person is competent and proficient as a teacher.”

Accomplished teachers consistently display a high level of performance in their professional practices, while Distinguished teachers are role models who exhibit the highest standard of professional practices.

However, these two categories are aspirational, while the Proficient standard assessment is compulsory.

Deputy chief programme officer, Tshering Phuntsho, said that a team of assessors will assess teachers, and assessors would be formed from schools where almost 900 assessors have already been trained.

Teacher competency and career stage determination or the assessment will be based on seven standards.

“We have tools and rubrics developed to ensure the assessment is specific and objective, where it will be a joint observation to minimise subjectivity/biases,” Tshering Phuntsho said. “In one category, there will be three rounds of observations inside the classroom; validations of a teacher’s practice and performance.”

As for assessors, he said, there will be a crisscross between schools, where assessors will also be assessed.

“Assessors should also meet the standard, because even if they have served for a decade, they have to meet the Proficient standard to get the allowance,” he said. He added that in the BPST, there is no distinction according to the number of service years the teachers have served and there could be a chance a P5 level teacher would be less competent than a P1.

The BPST would measure the competencies and practices of teachers to improve the quality of education while earlier the teachers were only categorised based on the number of years they served.

Rinchen Dorji said that in case if a teacher does not meet the Proficient standard during the assessment a teacher would be given two years’ grace period to improve themselves, get support, or seek intervention to improve.

“If, despite the grace period, a teacher still can’t achieve the Proficient standard, then they might have to leave the profession,” Rinchen Dorji said. “It’s only to ensure we screen teachers to gain professional credibility and public trust in this profession.”

Tshering Phuntsho said that the teacher professional support division is collecting feedback on how to improve in the implementation of BPST until December. “We’ll review all the feedback and improve the process. The success of BPST will also depend on how successfully assessors will implement the assessment.”

Meanwhile, some teachers Kuensel talked to said that although it is a good move to standardise teachers, they are hoping that it does not turn out like an individual work plan (IWP). A few said it was unnecessary, when the IWP is already there and it will only be an additional burden to the workload.

Some shared that it could create controversies because the ministry will be categorising an individual on different standards and some may not be happy with the decision.

“We hope that teachers are not disgruntled when placed in one of the standards,” a teacher said. Some shared that assessors should be honest with the assessment.

Rinchen Dorji said that BPST is different from the IWP, since the IWP is aimed at an individual teacher’s work done in a year while BPST is a standard to define teachers’ competency for career stages.

“In BPST there will be at least three assessors who will assess teachers, unlike the IWP which is an annual appraisal assessed by one individual. BPST is not a blanket allowance like the IWP,” he added.