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Jessica Bergmann

Education Research Manager

Jessica Bergmann is an education researcher with the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. Prior to joining the Office of Research - Innocenti, Jessica worked with the Education Commission, where she managed several research initiatives, including a multi-country research study on the use of delivery approaches to support policy implementation in education and the Save Our Future campaign, which convened researchers from around the world to study the impacts of COVID-19 school closures and create clear policy recommendations to support an equitable recovery. Jessica has extensive experience in research dissemination and utilization activities, including executing large-scale policy forums with ministries, facilitating multi-stakeholder knowledge-sharing events, and designing workshops to improve the use of evidence in policy and program design. She previously worked in Uganda designing and implementing teacher training and literacy programs and designing monitoring and evaluation systems to improve data-driven decision making across the organization. Jessica holds her Ed.M. in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her Bachelors in Secondary Education and English from Loyola University Chicago. She has worked across all parts of the education system, including with governments, international organizations, NGOs and community-led organizations, and formerly as a secondary school English teacher.

Publications

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in West and Central Africa
Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in West and Central Africa

Teachers are the most important drivers of students’ academic achievement and they are at the heart of learning recovery efforts. Finding out the bottlenecks and necessary conditions for ensuring teachers’ presence at school and in the classroom is essential. Time to Teach is a mixed methods research initiative that aims to find out the contextual, working conditions and policy factors impeding primary school teacher attendance in 11 West and Central African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, The Gambia, and Togo.
Augmenter la Représentation des Femmes Dans la Direction des Écoles: Une voie prometteuse pour améliorer l’apprentissage
Publication

Augmenter la Représentation des Femmes Dans la Direction des Écoles: Une voie prometteuse pour améliorer l’apprentissage

De nouvelles études montrent une association positive entre les femmes dirigeantes d'école et les résultats des élèves. Certaines études suggèrent que les femmes dirigeantes scolaires sont plus susceptibles que leurs homologues masculins d'adopter des pratiques de gestion efficaces pouvant contribuer à l'amélioration des résultats. Cependant, les femmes restent largement sous-représentées aux postes de direction des écoles, en particulier dans les pays à revenu faible ou intermédiaire. Cette publication présente de nouvelles connaissances sur l'association entre les femmes dirigeantes d'école et les résultats scolaires, et attire l'attention sur la sous-représentation des femmes dans les postes de direction d'école. Elle souligne la nécessité de poursuivre les recherches sur le genre et la direction des écoles afin d'identifier les politiques et les pratiques qui peuvent être mises en œuvre pour augmenter la représentation des femmes et étendre les pratiques de gestion de haute qualité adoptées par les femmes dirigeantes à un plus grand nombre d'écoles afin d'améliorer les résultats scolaires de tous les enfants.
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
Publication

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning

Emerging evidence shows a positive association between women school leaders and student performance. Some studies suggest women school leaders are more likely than their male counterparts to adopt effective management practices that may contribute to improved outcomes. However, women remain largely underrepresented in school leadership positions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This brief presents emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes and draws attention to women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles. It highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women leaders to more schools to improve education outcomes for all children.
Where are we on Education Recovery? Taking the Global Pulse of a RAPID Response
Publication

Where are we on Education Recovery? Taking the Global Pulse of a RAPID Response

Two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, education has been seriously disrupted. In response to this crisis, the global priority remains to ensure every child is supported so they can return to school and catch up on lost learning. Recognizing the need to accelerate education recovery with urgent, at-scale action, this joint report by UNICEF in partnership with UNESCO and the World Bank highlights staggering levels of learning loss globally and takes stock of the measures being taken by countries to mitigate learning losses as schools reopen. Based on a survey of 122 UNICEF country and fundraising offices administered in early March 2022, the report presents the importance of and progress made in five key actions for education recovery, the RAPID: Reach every child and retain them in school; Assess learning levels; Prioritize teaching the fundamentals; Increase catch-up learning and progress beyond what was lost; and Develop psychosocial health and well-being so every child is ready to learn.

Blogs

Can more women in school leadership improve learning outcomes?
Blog

Can more women in school leadership improve learning outcomes?

 The global education community has long focused on girls’ education and finding pathways to increasing girls’ access and retention in school, improving learning, and supporting girls’ holistic wellbeing. While the positive effects of female teachers on girls’ education have been well-researched, one piece often missing from gender discussions in education is school leadership – and the noticeable absence of women school leaders around the world.  For much of his life, Matt Brossard, Chief of Education at UNICEF Innocenti, has been surrounded by teachers and school leaders: both of his parents were teachers, his sister and his cousin are teachers, and his aunt was a primary school leader. Before segueing into a career shaping evidence, policy, and programmes on education, Matt taught mathematics in a secondary school center led by a man. Jessica Bergmann, an education researcher at UNICEF Innocenti, spent her entire education – from primary to secondary school and even to university – without a single female school leader. This experience continued when she became a secondary school English teacher, teaching in a school that was also led by a male principal.  As part of a new research initiative they are developing at UNICEF Innocenti, Women in Learning Leadership (WiLL), Matt and Jessica reflect on their personal experiences while looking at the available research and data. They realized that having more female head teachers could be an untapped opportunity to address the learning crisis, for both girls and boys. There is a gender gap in school leadership  School leaders play a critical role in creating high-quality teaching and learning environments. Effective school leaders can contribute to improving student learning outcomes, closing equity gaps, and fostering strong relationships between schools and the communities they serve. Yet, women remain underrepresented in school leadership roles, despite their increasing representation in the teaching workforce. Across several Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, there is a 20-percentage point difference between the share of female public primary school leaders and the share of female teachers, according to 2013 TERCE data.  Similar trends are seen across 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that participated in the 2019 PASEC assessment, where only 22 per cent of surveyed students attended a school with a female head teacher. Findings from our Data Must Speak positive deviance research show similar results: in Niger, Mali, and Togo, only about 1 in 10 school leaders are women (see Figure 1). Even in Niger, where 40 per cent of teachers are female, only 11 per cent of school leaders are women.  Figure 1: Female participation in school leadership and in the teaching workforce (primary education)  Emerging evidence shows students attending women-led schools may learn more  Early analysis and research from UNICEF Innocenti and other organizations shows that women-led schools may perform better than men-led schools. Across the PASEC-participating countries, learning outcomes at the end of primary school for both girls and boys in female-led schools are higher. PASEC 2019 assessment shows that the difference is statistically significant in eight countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Niger, and Senegal) in reading and in six countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Senegal) in mathematics.   In Lao PDR, our research shows that highly effective schools – schools that perform better than others in a similar context with the same resources – are twice as likely than other schools to be led by a woman. In Mozambique, schools with a female school leader have lower dropout rates than schools with a male school leader, noting that these results may be driven by the higher concentration of female school leaders in urban areas and more developed regions of the country (UNICEF Innocenti, forthcoming). In Togo, primary school exam results and promotion rates are higher for girls in schools where the head teacher is a woman, even when controlling for a set of contextual and geographical variables, such as whether the school is in an urban or rural area (UNICEF Innocenti, forthcoming).  We do not know enough about women’s participation and impact in school leadership   There is a lot we still do not understand about women in learning leadership.  First, we need to better understand women’s participation in school leadership roles and identify the critical barriers preventing them from moving into these roles. We need to look at recruitment and selection policies and also at social and cultural perceptions to find solutions that can increase women’s representation in school leadership. Second, more evidence is needed to understand the differences in learning outcomes for schools led by women compared to men and identify what practices, behaviors and attitudes contribute to these differences. What do women school leaders do that leads to better school performance? And how can we incentivize more school leaders, both women and men, to adopt these behaviors? These questions have formed the foundation of UNICEF Innocenti’s new research initiative, Women in Learning Leadership, which aims to expand the evidence base on gender and school leadership. Too many students around the world still move through their educational experiences without seeing women as part of the leadership landscape. This reinforces existing gender norms and stereotypes surrounding effective leaders and leadership capabilities. Both girls and boys could benefit from more women school leaders.  For International Women’s Day and beyond, as we reflect on ways to create a more gender equal world and #BreakTheBias, school leadership must remain a part of the conversation – because where there is a WiLL, there is a way. Read more about women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles and the emerging evidence that suggests women-led schools perform better in the latest evidence brief, Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A Promising Path Towards Improving Learning, co-authored by UNICEF Innocenti and IIEP-UNESCO Dakar.Jessica Bergmann is an education researcher at UNICEF Innocenti and Matt Brossard is the Chief of Education at UNICEF Innocenti. For more information about our Women in Learning Leadership (WiLL) research initiative and how to engage, Jessica and Matt can be contacted at jbergmann@unicef.org and mbrossard@unicef.org.