External advice in education has established itself to a significant extent as a form of support for schools seeking to review their internal processes in order to improve student learning. A number of countries (England, the United States, Australia, Sweden) have chosen to include school support systems in their educational policies. Among them is Chile, where there is an extensive market for Technical Educational Assistance (TEA) and the provision of external advice to schools.
The research analyses the performance of TEA in schools in the Chilean context. Specifically, the effectiveness of technical assistance as a system of external support to schools to enable processes of change. The overall objective is: to analyse the advisory process carried out by Technical Educational Assistance in schools and the factors that determine its impact on them.
Since TEA has become a highly sought-after strategy for schools, with a wide range of individuals, companies and institutions of higher education providing this service of external support, it is necessary to discover, through the feedback of those who have received it, what effect TEA has had on the schools where it has featured. For our purposes, TEA is defined as direct advisory services to educational establishments provided by outside consultants, whose purpose is to initiate or sustain processes of improvement. It is also necessary to know the advisory models used and the roles assumed by the consultants during the advisory process and correlate them with the changes occurring in schools.
The research adopts a concurrent mixed methodological approach. The study population is composed of schools that have been advised by TEA, the sampling technique is purposive non-probabilistic. The instruments used were a questionnaire, specially developed for this research, and semi-structured interviews. The informants were teachers and directors of schools which had received technical assistance. The analyses applied to the data were statistical (EFA, ANOVA, t for independent samples and binary logistic regression); the open questions in the questionnaire received a statistical analysis of textual data (SATD) and grounded theory was applied to the analysis of interviews. The results show that, in general, teachers give a low valuation, both to the impact TEA may have in schools, and to its practices. There were significant differences between teachers in public schools and those in schools under subsidized private ownership, the latter giving a better assessment of TEA. Despite the low average valuation, we can also see that the most influential variable is the duration of the process, and with reference to the advisory model, we see that the models of collaboration and facilitation can improve the impact on schools. Regarding the role of the advisor, it appears that the role typically referred to as 'facilitator' can enhance the probability that TEA will produce changes in schools. In addition, relevant variables that act as barriers to, or facilitators of, the process include: the communication between the advisor and their client, the attitude of the advisor, the openness to change of the organizational culture of the school, the level of participation of teachers in all stages of the advisory process, and the attitude of the teachers towards external support in general. Regarding the sustainability of the changes, it was observed that TEA does not develop behaviours which lead to the institutionalization of changes, such that improvements are not sustained over time.