Measures of quality through classroom observation for the Sustainable Development Goals: Lessons from low-and-middle-income countries

Background paper prepared for the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report: Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all. Observational methods are used extensively in teacher education and professional development to describe and evaluate classrooms. Pianta and Hamre (2009) argue that although observation can be a central feature of accountability frameworks, the most important reason to conduct classroom observation is to inform teacher professional development and, subsequently, to know if it is working. Observational methods can also be inquiry-driven, investigating classroom processes in order to generate hypotheses about their impact on learning (Pianta and Hamre 2009). There are fewer cases where classroom observations are used for system monitoring purposes (i.e. designed to gather information that can inform policy and practice of education systems at scale), particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This paper reviews what has been learned from classroom and lesson observation instruments in LMICs and considers what opportunities (i.e., scope) there are to systematize these countries to help them monitor quality at both the school and system levels