Since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has established itself as a parliamentary democracy pursuing an ambitious program of social and economic reform. In this context, the Macedonian Ministry of Education has set a goal of facilitating secondary schools’ response to the country’s changing economic and social structures. Through USAID’s EQUIP1 partnership and Leader Award program, IRA has joined with the American Institutes for Research to implement the Secondary Education Activity (SEA) to assist the ministry in meeting this goal.
SEA volunteers meet with Macedonian teachers and administrators to discover ways that instruction can become more relevant and flexible. The goals of the program are to increase the number of students who transition successfully from elementary to secondary school; lower drop-out rates; allow development of interventions that meet specific student needs; de-emphasize streaming of students and revise curricula that focus on specific industries; encourage community and business involvement in education; and promote the creation of environments where instruction fosters students’ discovery of the relationships between school learning and real-world application of knowledge.
IRA, with colleagues in the SEA office in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, is responsible for design and implementation of professional development following a “train the trainer” model. In all, 2,700 teachers and 45,000 students will benefit from this project, which is active in 50 secondary schools across the country. (2003–present)
An initiative of the Open Society Institute
and IRA, with leadership from faculty at the University of Northern Iowa and the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, RWCT promoted classroom teaching practices designed to help students learn actively, think critically, and work cooperatively. Through an integrated program of staff development activities for teachers at all levels, RWCT focused on methods of teaching rather than any particular curriculum. (1997–2003)
Educators in 29 countries participated in RWCT over the course of this multiyear project. Initially concentrated in the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe and central Asia, project activities spread to Latin America and southeast Asia. Teacher educators from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia—recruited as volunteers through IRA—offered workshops and made follow-up visits to host countries to train local educators, help teachers set up model classrooms, prepare and certify trainers, and transfer concepts and teaching methods to the institutions responsible for teacher education.
With the conclusion of project funding in 2003, RWCT activities are now continuing in most of the participating countries under different institutional arrangements. These activities concentrate on teacher training and university faculty development, and they also include professional conferences, the formation of teachers’ associations, and the publication of newsletters, journals, and books. For more about current RWCT activities, visit the RWCT International Consortium website
In collaboration with the Reading Center in Moscow, this project introduced authentic assessment to reading professionals in Russia and promoted its use in the classroom. Self-monitoring, self-assessment, portfolio, and other strategies were addressed during teacher training workshops.