In many areas of Brazil, primary school teachers have little formal training, and accountability for teacher and student performance is minimal—deficiencies that directly contribute to students’ poor literacy levels. Too many students are unable to read or write adequately when they reach fourth grade—and since many youth leave school after the fifth grade, the last year of compulsory education, they are unprepared to achieve long-term economic productivity and success in the workforce.
In response, INMED developed Ready to Teach, Ready to Learn, a school excellence initiative combining teacher training; development of instructional modules to increase students’ academic skills in reading, writing and mathematics; and improved school management, including ongoing performance assessment. Designated “master teachers” train their teacher colleagues in academic topics and best practices in instruction and classroom management.
In São Paulo and the outlying favela of Francisco Morato, home primarily to poor working-class families, the program reached 750 teachers in more than 50 schools and their 17,000 students, and has since been formally adopted by the Department of Education. Currently, the program is being replicated in Andirá, Paraná state, where despite an education department mandate for teacher training, none had been conducted, and no system for evaluating student or teacher performance was in place.
Independent verification reveals the program’s potential to transform elementary education in Brazil. In addition to dramatic gains in literacy indicators documented among individual students, previously underperforming schools surpassed São Paulo’s state-level performance goals.