Showing posts from September, 2011

Inspiring education through great design

by Hannah von Ahlefeld
Analyst, OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments

In many parts of the world, schools have re-opened their doors after a long summer break. Like many parents, I was nervous about the first day of school. First impressions count. As we arrived, my kids remarked that the recently renovated Parisian suburb school looked attractive and welcoming. Inside the school, they noted the different learning spaces in the large open-plan classrooms. Students were moving quietly through the different activity areas, taking in their new surroundings and exchanging excited conversation with friends. “This looks like a fun place”, they remarked (concurring, exceptionally, and to my relief). “We like the brightly painted walls, and the cosy canteen and reading area. And we really love the pink toilets with the giant water fountain!”

OECD’s new publication Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011 is all about how design can create new and ex…

Snowed under or crystal clear? Evaluating and assessing education outcomes in Norway

by Deborah Nusche and Claire Shewbridge
Policy Analysts,OECD Directorate for Education

Student tests, user surveys, data portals, inspection visits – educators in some countries may feel snowed under by measurement tools and not see how these should be useful for improvement. Yet, a winter visit to Norway revealed what can happen when a country sets out to build an evaluation and assessment system from scratch.
In 2004, Norway launched a national quality assessment system (NKVS) that aims to enhance student assessment, school evaluation and system evaluation in a connected way. A new OECD report takes stock of Norway’s progress and gives us the lowdown on what the country is doing well, and how it can get better.

The report is the outcome of an OECD review visit to Norway last December. In the midst of the Norwegian winter, the review team travelled to different regions of Norway to get behind formal descriptions of policies and explore the Norwegian approach in more depth. Beyond disc…

A Changing Landscape: University hotspots for science and technology

by Alessandra Colecchia Head of Economic Analysis and Statistics at the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry

Where are all the hot spots for science education? You might guess the United States, where many of the esteemed Ivy Leagues call home. Indeed, 40 of the world’s top universities are in the US, excelling in a wide range of disciplines. Nevertheless, if you take a deeper look at the education landscape a more diverse picture emerges.

A recent OECD report, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011, showed some surprising results on trends in education, technology and science.  While the US remains the top performer in research and development (R&D), non-OECD countries are catching up fast, both in spending and number of researchers. In 2009, China became the second largest R&D performer. The UK plays a key role in top social science universities, with 16 of the top 50 universities, and higher education institutions in Asia are quickly becoming …

Education pays

by Andreas Schleicher Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division, OECD Directorate for Education
Today’s launch of Education at a Glance 2011 gives us a good opportunity to take stock of where education is today and where it might be headed. And as the OECD celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, this is also good moment to reflect on how education has evolved over the past half-century.
The first obvious development over the years has been the dramatic expansion of higher education around the world. In 1995, for example, the United States was the standard against which other countries measured their education output; today the US is considered an average performer because so many other countries have expanded higher education so much faster.

This expansion has had a significant impact on the global talent pool. Across 36 countries, some 39 million people near retirement age have university-level degrees; but among the age group now entering the work force, some 81 million people d…

Ringing in a new (school) year

Early September marks the beginning of a new school year for children in the northern hemisphere (our friends in the southern hemisphere have been back to school for months now). It also marks the beginning for OECD educationtoday's new blog home here at
Many of you know us at where for years now we have brought you the latest and greatest developments in education - in areas such as student performance, early childhood learning, online learning and more. Today, we are moving our blog to a new home, where we hope many more of you will find us, join us and tell us what you think.
We will continue to blog about hot topics in education around the globe and at OECD, bringing you an insider look at new findings in international student performance, skills, early childhood education, education innovation and more. Guest bloggers from within the OECD (including experts in the field) and from around the world (education minist…