One of the biggest challenges we face as educators, is how we can significantly improve performance and the quality of learning of our students.

The data available today which is related to the results of our education systems, and above all, the fact that we still have more than a third of repeaters in different countries or that there are still differences of more than 70% between students from the same school, show us that not only the educational programs can be improved (what we teach), but also the practice in every school and classroom (how we teach) *

Things have come to such extreme situation, that fixing it has been seen as a real need and increasingly considered the key to differentiate those educational institutions that are of real quality from those that are not.

This reality has led the Escalae Institute to develop a set of useful protocols and tools for determining appropriate teaching practices for each educational or training institution, detect the degree of compliance with those practices by teachers, develop teachers professionally, and consequently, help improve what is done in the classroom, thereby improving the learning outcomes of students.

Escalae System ® consists of a set of modules which are adaptable to each entity and context, and count on tailor-made rigorous scientific indicators based on the learning objectives of each entity. They are used for teaching self-diagnostics, rigorous and appropriate detection of educational needs, as well as the development and monitoring of innovation projects and teacher professional development, obtaining an annual recognition and even an international educational quality certification.

* Data PISA report 2009.

Needs of educational institutions

  • Foster students loyalty
  • Get new students each year
  • Improve the quality of the educational service offered
  • Improve the teachers’ professional development
  • Innovate classrooms continuously
  • Control the teaching-learning processes

System created to provide teachers’ professional development and help institutions fulfill the learning offered, through:

  • ANALYZING the teaching practices in the classroom.
  • ALIGNING teaching practices based on the most appropriate innovations or improvements.
  • AUDITING innovations and effective improvements in the classrooms until teachers achieve suitable common habits.

This Teaching Professional Development System consists of the following modules:

Escalae Academy: Escalae Academy: To learn everything you need on how to implement the system.Online training, tutorials, synchronous technical advice, recognition as Coordinator of Escalae System, Support from a training platform online: http://plataforma.escalae.org

Escalae Self-Diagnosis: Customized measurement and a tool implementation in order to learn firsthand from teachers, what professional practices they develop which are consistent with the learning to be achieved by their students. More than 100 characteristics can be analyzed, grouped into 16 areas of teaching. Instrument adapted to each level of education (nursery, primary, secondary, high school, college, professional training). Support comes from an online application to answer the analysis instrument: http://cuestionario.escalae.org

Escalae Community: Innovation and teaching improvement through a peer learning methodology which is highly participatory, and where the transfer from theory to pedagogic practice is guaranteed starting from common methodological agreements, those depending on the learning to be achieved by the students. Support from a manager in charge of educational projects through online collaboration using customized educational materials: http://gpe.escalae.org

Escalae +e Certification: Institutional recognition of innovations and effective improvements in the classroom, through a process of internal review as well as, optionally, external audit and international educational quality certification (Referential called +e). The Escalae system is also auditable by any other system of educational quality, as part of teaching-learning processes.

Escalae System ® uses the essence of teaching training, improvement projects, quality management and the use of indicators, all of it from the perspective of the classroom, which ensures a transfer between educational theory and practice to enhance teachers’ professional development and educational innovation.

Why other strategies do not guarantee the transfer to educational practice?

Teacher training: It is necessary if we want to upgrade the teachers’ pedagogic knowledge, but is not an effective method to transfer that knowledge to the classroom because of the lack of monitoring, practice and support in the implementation. In fact, we are all aware that very little of what is taught in a course (workshop, seminar, conference) ends as teachers habits.

Improvement projects: These projects are usually developed by groups or teams which are trained in the center. The projects are important for teachers to advance through the systematic work done and for its ability to share best practices, but they have some difficulty in their conception: they are integrated by members who have a personal initiative that want to introduce, which is not necessarily aligned with what the school needs to move forward. Furthermore, when the group or team achieves its mission (or their members lose motivation or leave the institution), the project results will gradually fade and die. Typically, these projects do not generate institutionalized habits.

Quality systems and outcome evaluations: A number of education and formative entities, both public and private, have initiated a path to quality from internationally recognized systems such as ISO, EFQM, among others. These systems help to organize the institution in a better way and this has clear benefits for management efficiency. The problem is that none of these systems has a body of specific indicators of our profession as teachers. Therefore, it adjusts to what the institution can provide itself, or to general indicators about the educational organization, but not on teaching/learning processes in strict sense.

Outcome evaluations: The use of assessments has been very widespread, as well as satisfaction surveys and other instruments on learning outcomes as a means to make decisions about educational improvement. The problem is that these generate a reactive approach from that defined as unsatisfactory even when we know that it is not necessary that the learning outcomes are negative to improve what we do in the classroom. Therefore, indicators of processes to “see” clearly what happens in classrooms and their impact on the students learning outcomes are required.

ENSURE that investments in educational innovation, teacher training and equipment, be reflected in students’ learning improvement results.

STRENGTHEN quality processes, attending the most important processes of teaching and learning.

DEVELOP an internal teaching culture grounded on reflection, collaborative work, innovation and continuous improvement of professional practice.

INCREASE principals and teachers pedagogical leadership, supporting their decisions on data, strategic plans for innovation and a participatory model for alignment of professional practices in the classroom.

GUARANTEE the long term viability of the educational project, by developing and constantly updating their own pedagogical identity as a differential key value over other competing entities.

Escalae System ® is the result of seven years of research in relation to teaching quality. Since 2007, thousands of teachers at all educational levels in 7 countries have helped build this program with their participation, but also with their valuable inputs and suggestions. In 2009 a report was submitted to the Agencia para la Ayuda a la Universidad y la Investigación (Assistance to University and Research Agency, AGAUR -for its acronym in Catalan) which belongs to the government of Catalonia, Spain. This Agency sponsored the initial research, with early versions of this program and its conclusions. Since then, we, at the Escalae Institute, have been researching on the results in applying the system, and we have published several related articles in refereed journals.

Escalae System ® uses the essence of teacher training, improvement projects and quality systems, but from a new perspective that guarantees a transfer between educational theory and practice.

This is based on the systems theory, learning organizations, reflective practice, learning communities or communities in practice, as well as organizational development, knowledge for action and change management. Spanish authors such as Armengol, Gairín Antúnez, Solé, Bolivar, Rul, Santos Guerra, Marcelo Escudero, Gimeno Sacristán, De la Torre and Lorenzo Delgado, among others, have dealt extensively with this issue, focusing on the analysis of educational organizations. Meanwhile, international authors such as Argyris, Ball, Carr, Kemmis, Díaz Barriga, Doll, Elliott, Giroux, Guba, Lincoln, Hamel, Handy, Hargreaves, Kofman, Schön, Senge, Skinner, Stake, Tyler, Woods and Yin, among many others, have studied organizational changes establishing archetypes for change, and developing theory and practice about learning communities among education professionals.

In order to assess educational practice, Escalae has compiled the theories developed from learning psychology, neuroscience and teaching, with a clear contrast in practice, from clinical applications and case studies. Some contributions of theories collected, which could serve as an example to discuss the theoretical and practical basis, are:

  • Genetic theory of intellectual development (Piaget and disciples)
  • Human information processing theory (Rumelhart)
  • Theoretical elaborations on motivational, emotional and relational components of school learning (Bandura)
  • Assimilation theory (Ausubel)
  • Sociocultural theory to learning and development (Vygotsky)
  • Theory of Multiple intelligences (Gardner)

Among others