Palau is an independent nation, affiliated with the United States through a Compact of Free Association. The Compact provides economic assistance, military protection, and free and unrestricted access to the United States by Palau’s citizens. The population of Palau, approximately 19,907 as of the 2005 Palau Census, is spread out over eight principal islands and 250 smaller islands. The official languages and languages of instruction are Palauan and English; Palauan is the language of instruction for grades K–3, Palauan and English are the languages of instruction for grades 4–5, and English is the language of instruction for grades 6–12. The economy is dependent on government employment as well as tourism, trade, subsistence agriculture, and fishing.
The school system is headed by a minister of education, who reports to an elected board of education. A director of education oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools. Enrollment in the school system is approximately 4,151 students in grades K–12, with a total of 359 teachers. The compulsory schooling age in Palau ranges from 6–17. There is a two-year institution of higher education, Palau Community College.
In Palau, work is focused on strengthening teacher effectiveness and optimizing data systems to help create a new generation of leaders for Palau’s future. In coordination with the Palau Research Alliance, REL Pacific is conducting a study on how teachers in Palau perform on the ETS Praxis I PPST tests of reading, writing, and math, and the relationships between teacher demographics and professional characteristics and teacher performance. In addition, optimizing data systems by sharing data that impact specific issues across organizations is a priority in Palau.