Person:
Bruns, Barbara

Human Development Department, Latin America and the Caribbean Region, World Bank
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Education Economics; Brazil; Education for All
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Human Development Department, Latin America and the Caribbean Region, World Bank
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Last updated: February 1, 2023
Biography
Barbara Bruns is lead economist in the Education Global Practice at the World Bank, specializing in research on education quality in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is lead author of the books Great Teachers: How to raise student learning in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Javier Luque (October 2014) and Achieving World Class Education in Brazil: the Next Agenda (2012), with David Evans and Javier Luque. She also co-authored Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability Reforms (with Deon Filmer and Harry Patrinos, 2011), a review of global evidence on interventions to improve school quality.   From 2007-2009, Barbara was the first manager of the $14 million Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF) at the World Bank, launched to support rigorous research on education quality.  She also co-authored the World Bank/IMF MDG Global Monitoring Reports of 2005, 2006 and 2007, served on the Education Task force appointed by the UN Secretary General in 2003, co-authored the book A Chance for Every Child: Achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015, and headed the Secretariat of the global Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA FTI) from 2002 to 2004.   Prior to joining the World Bank, Barbara was a staff economist on the US Senate Banking Committee and legislative assistant to Senator Adlai Stevenson III.  She holds degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    Through the Looking Glass: Can Classroom Observation and Coaching Improve Teacher Performance in Brazil?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-07) Costa, Leandro; Bruns, Barbara; Cunha, Nina
    This study conducted a randomized evaluation of a program in the Brazilian state of Ceara. The program was designed to improve teachers’ effectiveness by increasing their professional interaction and sharing of classroom practice. In 175 of 350 secondary schools, teachers were provided with benchmarked feedback from classroom observations and access to expert coaching. Schools’ uptake of the coaching program was high (85 percent). Over a single school year, the program increased teachers’ time on instruction and student engagement and produced statistically significant gains in student learning on the Ceara state assessment and the national secondary school exit exam. Controlling for individual students’ prior-year learning outcomes, schools exposed to the program had 0.05-0.09 standard deviation higher performance on the state test and 0.04-0.06 standard deviation higher scores on the national test. Implementation fidelity strongly boosted program impacts. In the 49 schools where the pedagogical coordinators achieved the highest certification at the end of the program, student scores were 0.13-0.23 standard deviation higher on the state test and 0.13-0.17 standard deviation higher on the national test. Coaching delivered by Skype kept the costs of the program low, $2.40 per student, and produced cost-effective impacts on learning in comparison with other rigorously evaluated teacher training interventions. The combination of classroom observation feedback and expert coaching appears to be a promising strategy for whole-school efforts to raise teacher effectiveness.
  • Publication
    Achieving World-Class Education in Brazil : The Next Agenda
    (World Bank, 2012) Bruns, Barbara; Evans, David
    Education is improving in Brazil. The average years of education has almost doubled over the last 20 years, as has the proportion of adults who have completed secondary school. Brazil's high school students have improved consistently in math and language performance over the last decade. These gains stem from the federal government's priority attention to education through both reforms and resources over the past 15 years. The progress laid out in this book is impressive and praiseworthy, but Brazil still trails its competitors in several of the ways that matter most. Student learning, while improving, still lags far behind wealthier nations. Many secondary schools lose the majority of their students well before graduation. Teachers are drawn from among the lowest achievers and have few performance incentives, and it shows in how class time is used. This important book explores not only the basis for Brazil's progress, but also what it must do to bridge the remaining quality gap to a first-rate education for its children. It provides detailed recommendations for strengthening the performance of teachers, supporting children's early development, and reforming secondary education. In Brazil's highly decentralized basic education system, each level of government has an integral role to play.
  • Publication
    Great Teachers : How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015) Bruns, Barbara; Yarrow, Noah; De Gregorio, Soledad; Evans, David; Fernández, Marco; Moreno, Martin; Rodriguez, Jessica; Toral, Guillermo; Yarrow, Noah
    The seven million teachers of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are the critical actors in the region's efforts to improve education quality and raise student learning levels, which lag far behind those of OECD countries and East Asian countries such as China. This book documents the high economic stakes around teacher quality, benchmarks the current performance of LAC's teachers, and delineates the key issues. These include low standards for entry into teacher training, poor quality training programs that are detached from the realities of the classroom, unattractive career incentives, and weak support for teachers once they are on the job. New research conducted for this report in close to 15,000 classrooms in seven different LAC countries - the largest cross-country study of this kind to date - provides a first-ever insight into how the region's teachers perform inside the classroom. It documents that the average teacher in LAC loses the equivalent of one day of instructional time per week because of inadequate preparation, excessive time on administration (taking attendance, passing out papers) and a surprisingly high share of time physically absent from the classrooms where they should be teaching. Teachers also make limited use of available learning materials, espcially those using information and communications technology (ICT), and are unable to keep the majority of their students engaged. The book sets out the three priority lines of reform needed to produce great teachers in LAC: policies to recruit better teachers; programs to groom teachers and improve their skills once they are in service; and stronger incentives to motivate teachers to perform their best throughout their career. In every area, the book distills the latest evidence from inside and outside the region to provide practical guidance to policymakers in the design of effective programs and sustainable reforms. A final chapter analyzes the politics of recent major teacher reforms in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, chronicling the prominent role of teachers' unions and the political and communications strategies that have underpinned successful reforms.
  • Publication
    Great Teachers : How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean--Overview
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-07-18) Bruns, Barbara
    While the importance of good teaching may be intuitively obvious, only over the past decade has education research begun to quantify the high economic stakes around teacher quality. In a world where the goals of national education systems are being transformed, from a focus on the transmission of facts and memorization to a focus on student competencies for critical thinking, problem solving and lifelong learning the demands on teachers are more complex than ever. Governments across the world have put teacher quality and teacher performance under increasing scrutiny. The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is no exception to these trends; indeed, in some key areas of teacher policy, the region is at the vanguard of global reform experience. The study aims to benchmark the current performance of LAC s teachers and identify key issues. It shares emerging evidence on important reforms of teacher policy being implemented in Lac countries. The study also analyzes the political room for maneuver for further reform in Lac. They focus on teachers in basic education (preschools, primary and secondary education) because the quantitative and qualitative challenges of producing effective teachers at these levels differ in key ways from university-level education, which has been addressed in other recent World Bank publications.
  • Publication
    Making Schools Work : New Evidence on Accountability Reforms
    (World Bank, 2011-02-24) Bruns, Barbara; Filmer, Deon; Patrinos, Harry Anthony
    This volume is a systematic stock-taking of the evidence on school accountability reforms in developing countries. It provides a measured and insightful review and assessment of the results of a variety of approaches that developing countries are experimenting with in their quest for better schools. It is not the final word on the subject, but will hopefully contribute to better policy choices, grounded in the evidence currently available. This book is about the threats to education quality that cannot be explained by lack of resources. It focuses on publicly financed school systems and the phenomenon of service delivery failures: cases where programs and policies that increase the inputs to education fail to produce effective delivery of services where it counts-in schools and classrooms. It documents what authors know about the extent and costs of service delivery failures in public education in the developing world. And it further develops aspects of the conceptual model posited in the World development report 2004: that a root cause of low-quality and inequitable public services-not only in education-is the weak 'accountability' of providers to both their supervisors and their clients (World Bank 2003). The central focus of this book, however, is a new story. It is that developing countries are increasingly adopting innovative strategies to attack these issues.