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Education for a New Era

Education for a New Era: Design and Implementation of K–12 Education Reform in Qatar

Dominic J. Brewer
Catherine H. Augustine
Gail L. Zellman
Gery Ryan
Charles A. Goldman
Cathleen Stasz
Louay Constant
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Education for a New Era
    Book Description:

    Describes the first phase (2001-2004) of Qatar's bold K-12 education reform initiative, Education for a New Era, based on RAND's experiences as part of this ambitious, multi-participant effort. RAND examined the existing Qatari education system, recommended options for building a world-class system, and supported implementation of the chosen option, which is based on internationally benchmarked curriculum standards and parental choice of schools.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4783-0
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xvii-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  9. Glossary
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxviii)
  10. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The leadership of the Arabian Gulf nation of Qatar is similar to the leadership of many other countries in viewing education as the key to future economic, political, and social progress. Many have concluded that a country’s ability to compete in the global economy and enable its citizens to take full advantage of technological advances relies on upgrading the quality of the schooling provided and ensuring that what is taught is aligned with national priorities and international developments.

    In Summer 2001, the State of Qatar’s leadership asked the RAND Corporation to examine the K–12 (kindergarten through grade 12) school...

  11. CHAPTER TWO Qatar and Its Education System
    (pp. 7-32)

    To understand the education reform that was designed for and implemented in Qatar, it is essential to have some understanding of the Qatari context. We begin this chapter with descriptive overviews of Qatar’s historical and political background, economy and industry, and population, citizenship, and workforce. We then describe in some detail the education system—as it existed in 2001, when this project began—and its characteristics, as well as previous attempts at reform. These topics are important to the discussion because the current reform has been influenced not only by the nature of the education system itself, but also by...

  12. CHAPTER THREE Analysis of Qatar’s Education System
    (pp. 33-46)

    As discussed in Chapter One, RAND performed a background analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Qatar’s education system as an essential precursor to formulating possible options for improvement. We begin this chapter by discussing both the procedures used to gather information about the Qatari system and the initial RAND assessment, which partially confirmed the prevailing view in Qatar: The nation’s schools were failing to prepare students for modern life. We also discuss the problems that were identified along four broad themes: system integration, incentives and accountability, resource allocation, and curriculum and pedagogy. In addition, we discuss some strengths upon...

  13. CHAPTER FOUR The Reform Model
    (pp. 47-68)

    Based on the conclusion that a system-changing reform was needed, the Qatari leadership asked RAND to develop options for reforming Qatar’s education system. The new system design had to be able to help produce Qatari student graduates who were ready to contribute to and participate in an increasingly democratic state and an international environment. Additionally, the design had to be appropriate for Qatar and had to build on the existing system’s strengths while recognizing major challenges and constraints.

    We begin this chapter by describing the three reform-model options that RAND developed, which were presented to the Qatari leadership in January...

  14. CHAPTER FIVE Realizing the Independent School Model: Refined Design and Implementation Strategy
    (pp. 69-90)

    History tells us that implementation of education reforms is difficult. Because previous reform attempts in Qatar had not been successful, partially as a result of poor implementation planning, the Qatari leadership wanted not only a conceptual description of the Independent School Model, but also an implementation strategy to guide the reform effort. This strategy needed to move the Independent School Model from an abstract option for changing the system into a reality.

    In working with the Qataris to develop the implementation strategy, RAND relied on its knowledge of the Qatari system, the implementation requirements embedded in the Independent School Model...

  15. CHAPTER SIX Building the Organizational Structure
    (pp. 91-98)

    An essential first step in implementing the school system reform was to establish a new institutional framework. But even before a new organizational structure could be established, a new legal structure had to be put in place, one that would serve to formally define and to empower the agencies charged with formulating education policies and initiating and monitoring the reform. This entity was to be the Supreme Education Council (SEC). It would oversee two new institutions—the Education Institute and the Evaluation Institute—and thus oversee the reform. It would also overseeall othereducation enterprises in Qatar, including the...

  16. CHAPTER SEVEN Developing the Curriculum Standards and Supporting Their Implementation
    (pp. 99-110)

    Challenging standards were an essential element of the reform’s design in that they would provide the basis for the standards-based education system and would define expectations for student learning and performance. These standards, which would include both content standards (what students should be taught in each grade) and performance standards (what students should know by the end of each grade), would promote variety and autonomy because they very scrupulously wouldnotdictate, or even propose, the curriculum itself, nor prescribe how information and skills were to be conveyed. Which textbooks to use, which pedagogical approaches to promote, which instructional strategies...

  17. CHAPTER EIGHT Developing the Assessment System
    (pp. 111-124)

    Enhanced assessment was a key element of the Qatari education reform. Objective measurement of student achievement according to the curriculum standards is what allows participants at all levels of the system to make improvements. School operators, principals, teachers, parents, employers, colleges, universities, and national leaders—all of these participants can use information from an assessment system to understand trends in student performance over time. Measurement extends beyond testing, however. Participants can benefit from objective information about behaviors within the education system (such as teaching practices) and perceptions of the system (such as parental satisfaction). With effective measurement tools, the education...

  18. CHAPTER NINE Establishing the Independent Schools
    (pp. 125-140)

    The terms of the reform’s design specified that the first generation of Independent schools would open in Fall 2004. This meant that in 2003 and early 2004, while the Education Institute was recruiting staff and getting itself established, it also had to accomplish numerous tasks critical to getting schools open on time. Four major tasks fell mainly to the Institute’s Independent School Office and Finance Office:

    Develop operational guidelines for schools and plans for their financing.

    Develop a long-term implementation plan specifying numbers and types of schools to be opened in the first and subsequent generations.

    Develop a process for...

  19. CHAPTER TEN Challenges of a Rapid and Comprehensive Reform
    (pp. 141-152)

    Every major implementation project runs into challenges along the way, and Qatar’s education reform has proved to be no exception. In Chapter Five, we discussed potential challenges in implementing the reform in Qatar, as well as how the design of the reform and the implementation strategy attempted to deal with them. These challenges included

    Maintaining a system-wide perspective

    Building human resource capacity

    Engaging stakeholders through communication

    Encouraging operators to open schools

    Managing a very tight time frame.

    In addition, as expected, some unanticipated challenges emerged:

    Conflicting leadership roles

    Collaborating across culture, distance, and time.

    This chapter summarizes these key challenges,...

  20. CHAPTER ELEVEN Accomplishments, Recommendations, and Implications
    (pp. 153-168)

    TheEducation for a New Erareform represents a significant departure from Qatar’s past and a far-reaching vision for Qatar’s future. A tenyear time frame was set for the reform’s implementation; the focus in this report is the three years from the project’s inception, in Summer 2001, to the opening of the first generation of Independent schools, in Fall 2004. This report documents the rationale and strategy for the system-changing education reform begun in Qatar and the reform’s initial implementation.

    The specific purpose of this chapter is to review the main accomplishments documented in earlier chapters and present developments since...

    (pp. 169-170)
  22. References
    (pp. 171-178)