Leading together: insights from ministers and teachers on the future of education

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

The expectations we place on teachers are high and growing. We expect them to have a deep and broad understanding of what they teach, how their students learn, and of the students themselves. We also expect them to be passionate, compassionate and thoughtful; to make learning central and encourage students’ engagement and responsibility; to respond effectively to the needs of students from different backgrounds and languages; to promote tolerance and social cohesion; to provide continual feedback and assessments of students; and to ensure that students feel valued and included in collaborative learning. We expect teachers to collaborate with each other, and to work with other schools and parents to set common goals and monitor their attainment.

These expectations are so high, in part, because teachers make such a difference in students’ lives. People who are successful today typically had a teacher who took a rea…

Why context matters for social and emotional skills

By Miloš Kankaraš
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

In the British documentary series Seven Up, director Michael Apted follows a group of young children from different backgrounds throughout their lives. The first episode aired in 1964, when the children were seven years old, and a new installment has been released every seven years since. (In the most recent film, the “stars” are 56 years old.) It’s a remarkable feat of filmmaking, and its central message – that people’s lives are greatly influenced by the socio-economic conditions of their childhood – still resonates today.

In one especially memorable moment, two seven-year-old boys from a priviledged background are asked whether they want to go to university. Both explain their academic plans in great detail, right down to the names of the Cambridge colleges they would attend. When the same question is posed to another 7-year-old who lives in a charity home, he replies: “What does ‘university’ mean?”. Needless to say, th…

Why the Sustainable Development Goal on Education matters for everyone

By Michael Ward
Senior Policy Analyst, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in 2015, are a universal call for action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all. The fourth SDG (SDG 4) aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. SDG 4 encompasses ten targets, which together represent the most comprehensive and ambitious agenda for global education ever formulated.

The OECD works closely with UNESCO, the lead UN agency for SDG 4, and plays a key role in the implementation of the SDG agenda through monitoring and assessing measures of learning outcomes and skills. We take a closer look at SDG 4 in the latest edition of our Education Indicators in Focusbrief, and explain why they matter for OECD countries.

Two facets of SDG 4 distinguish it from the preceding Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on education, whic…

Why aren’t more girls choosing careers in science and engineering?

By Tarek Mostafa
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the offices of most tech companies and laboratories today. Although more women than men complete tertiary education across high-income countries, they account for just 25 percent of graduates in information and communications technology, and 24 percent in engineering. Less clear, however, are the reasons behind this gender gap.

Some studies have pointed to discrimination or the absence of affordable childcare, while others have highlighted the importance of professional networks and personal preferences. Now, new research has shed light on another factor that may be at work: girls’ confidence in science, and their relative strength in other subjects.

The latest issue of PISA in Focus takes a closer look at this research, which was published last year by Gijsbert Stoet and David Geary. Their paper analyses PISA 2015 data to explore the nature of the gender gap in science, te…

What a California school survey can tell us about measuring social and emotional skills

By Thomas Toch and Raegen Miller
Guest authors

Educators across the globe increasingly agree that the social and emotional dimensions of learning are critical for a student’s success – a trend that is underscored by the OECD’s forthcoming Study on Social and Emotional Skills. But there is little consensus around how to measure these important factors – and how to strengthen them.

A consortium of six urban school districts in California has taken a pioneering approach to measuring social and emotional development, using school climate surveys to assess how students feel about their experiences at school and how they view themselves as learners. The consortium, known as the CORE Districts, initially planned to integrate the survey results as part of systems to rate schools. Instead, they’re now trying to harness the information they collected to improve student performance.

One major finding from the annual study, which involved nearly one million students, is that girls lose their self-…

How do teachers respond to diverse classrooms?

By Aakriti Kalra
Consultant, Directorate for Education and Skills

Demographic change and large-scale migration have raised important challenges for education systems today, as teachers and school leaders work to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Research shows that students’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds, native languages and immigrant status are strongly linked to inequalities in educational achievement. But a better understanding of how teachers, schools and education systems respond to diversity could help close the gap.

This is why classroom diversity is a major area of focus in the upcoming OECD Teaching and Learning Survey (TALIS). Slated for release in June 2019, the third cycle of TALIS is based on questionnaires that were circulated across 200 schools and 4,000 teachers in nearly 50 countries. The questionnaires collect information on various aspects of teachers’ work and learning environments, including their experience in diverse classrooms.

Our surve…

Reducing the immigrant gap in education: What Sweden can learn from other countries

By Francesca Borgonovi
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

For decades, Sweden has served as an exemplary model for integrating immigrants. The country’s well-developed integration system, together with its innovative and effective education sector, have helped immigrants and refugee students to feel more at home in their new country. But Sweden faced new challenges in 2015, when it began seeing a large inflow of new arrivals. More than 440,000 people immigrated to the country between 2015 and 2017, adding significant pressure to its integration system and its education sector, in particular.

Large-scale international assessments have shed light on some of the difficulties that Sweden faces in meeting the needs of immigrant students, who still lag behind their native-born counterparts in academic and well-being outcomes. According to PISA 2015, 76% of native-born students achieved the PISA benchmark proficiency levels in reading, mathematics and science, compared to ju…