Apr 4, 2014
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) began an ambitious reform of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's (KRI's) kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) education system beginning in 2007 in an effort to modernize the curriculum, upgrade school facilities, and raise the quality of instruction. In 2010, RAND was asked to conduct a one-year study to assess the status of the K–12 system and its reform, and to develop strategic priorities and make practical recommendations for improving access to and quality of education in Kurdistan. In a one-year, multi-method study, RAND researchers analyzed school data from the KRG's Ministry of Education, as well as data from other KRI government sources and Iraq; interviewed a wide variety of stakeholders; surveyed teachers; reviewed the new K–12 curriculum and the curriculum used in the teacher colleges; developed a model to project future student enrollment; used geographic information system mapping to display the distribution of schools and assess the feasibility of proposed actions; and reviewed the literature on best practices and relevant educational policies. The outcome was three strategic priorities for improving the K–12 system: expand capacity to meet the rapidly growing demand for education, improve the quality of instruction, and strengthen stakeholders' accountability and incentives. In line with these priorities, RAND recommended that the KRG build new schools and classrooms, hire new teachers, improve teacher training for both practicing and new teachers, increase instructional time, provide high-performing students with broadened learning opportunities, restructure the role of supervisors, redesign the system for evaluating teacher performance, increase the principal's role, reward high-performing schools, measure student achievement and progress and make the results public, and involve parents and the public in promoting education. RAND also suggested ways to implement the recommendations that would make the process manageable.