GSE News

Penn GSE Works with Kazakh Educators on School Improvement

February 17, 2011 - In February, Penn GSE hosted a delegation of Kazakh educators for an intensive, two-week program that focused on educational governance and management. The delegation was composed of members from the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools — a group of secondary schools in Kazakhstan that is collaborating with GSE faculty as part of their country's push for educational reform. 

Kazakh educators visit Masterman High“Our goal is to help them develop the capacity to develop a highly effective school system,” said Penn GSE faculty member Alan Ruby, who spearheaded a similar work Penn GSE conducted in Kazakhstan at the university level.

As a former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan has operated under a top-down, bureaucracy-laden system of education governance since the 1920s. And while many of the country's educational measures are high, the system has not encouraged the kind of critical thinking skills essential in a competitive global economy.

In response, the country has undertaken a program of major education reform. In June 2010, a brand-new research university opened in the capital city of Atsana. To develop that institution, the Kazakhs drew on the expertise of a variety of elite universities, including Penn GSE, which consulted on issues of governance and management. 

The Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools are part of that reform movement, developed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Inspired by the success of the higher-education project, they also turned to Penn GSE for guidance in reforming their secondary educational system. 

The February workshops focused on providing basic training to create high-performing schools. Topics covered include the importance of mission, educational leadership, the role of boards of trustees, professional teacher preparation and development, and teacher assessment. 

Priscilla Dawson and Earl Ball, co-directors of Penn GSE’s School Leadership program, also conducted site visits. Dawson took the group to Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, the most highly ranked school in the Philadelphia district, while Ball led tours of three high-performing independent schools in the area: William Penn Charter School, George School, and Episcopal Academy. 


Media contact: Jill DiSanto-Haines / / 215-898-4820