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Showing posts from July, 2013

What a tangled web we weave: strategies for school improvement

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by Harald Wilkoszewski
Analyst, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills

The best education possible for our children – this is what all education systems strive for. But what can policy makers do when schools become weak, sometimes too weak, to fulfil their purpose? Especially in highly decentralised systems, where schools enjoy high levels of autonomy, policy interventions to help improve the learning situations for students can be particularly difficult to implement.

A new case study on The Netherlands for the OECD project “Governing Complex Education Systems (GCES)” shows that a timely, risk-based assessment of schools can help to significantly lower the number of weak schools. The case study also illustrates that governing is in the details, as the reform had some undesired effects. But let’s look at the good news first.

In 2009, 120 Dutch schools were underperforming. In 2011 this number decreased to less than 100, a significant drop of ove…

Big data and PISA

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by Andreas Schleicher
Deputy Director and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's Secretary-General

Big data is the foundation on which education can reinvent its business model and build the coalition of governments, businesses, and social entrepreneurs that can bring together the evidence, innovation and resources to make lifelong learning a reality for all. So the next educational superpower might be the one that can combine the hierarchy of institutions with the power of collaborative information flows and social networks. More than anything else, this will hinge on getting people to generate innovative applications on top of big data. It’s about the co-creation of governance, about delivering more progressive and better policies than the industrial work organisation and the bureaucratic and litigation-oriented tools and strategies that we are used to in education.

This isn’t just about improved transparency and public accountability in education. Throwing education da…

A skilful approach to employment

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byBarbara Ischinger
Director for Education and Skills

July brought some good news and some bad news. The good news is that vocational and technical skills are flourishing and I watched young people with those skills competing to find who’s best in the world at the WorldSkills Competition held in Leipzig, Germany, earlier in the month. Over a thousand young people, representing 65 countries and regions across the world, were demonstrating their skills in everything from welding to web design. Korea topped the medal table (including gold for confectionery/pastry making with chocolate sculptures too impressive to eat) with Switzerland in second place. The level of technical expertise on show was astounding, but what impressed me more than anything was the poise and self-confidence along with the commitment to excellence and professionalism of all the competitors. And it wasn’t just for the competitors — it was a big festival of vocational skills for the general public. Anyone could try the…

Getting education to make biculturalism work

by Andreas Schleicher
Deputy Director and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's Secretary-General

I was able to add half a day to visit schools in New Zealand, something I always try to do where my schedule permits. At Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi, New Zealand’s first community school offering Māori medium instruction, I was greeted by a group of ferocious warriors slowly approaching us and offering the choice between picking a fight and settling for peace. With that choice made, we were warmly welcomed with a traditional pōwhiri at the school’s marae. In Māori culture greeting others is an important opportunity for people to show respect and to set the tone for whatever comes after. That hour-long ceremony included skilled speakers crafting poetic verbal images, but most impressive was how the school’s entire student population sang with one voice, confident and incredibly dynamic and self-orchestrated, without a conductor. Principal Rawiri Wright, former lead…

What’s your strategy for learning?

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Here’s a little test for you: Write a one-paragraph summary of a newspaper or web article you just read. After you’ve done that, try to explain how you did it. Did you read the text over and over to try to commit it to memory? Did you make sure the most important facts in the article were represented in your summary, in your own words? You might ask: what does it matter?

Knowing the best way to summarise information you read is key to being a proficient reader. In fact, this month’s PISA in Focus suggests that if disadvantaged students – who consistently score lower on PISA assessments than advantaged students -- used the most effective learning strategies to the same extent as students from more advantaged backgrounds do, the performance gap between the two groups would shrink considerably.

PISA 2009 asked students to describe how they summarise texts they read. Based on their responses, and on experts’ judgements of the…

Students – the migrants everyone wants

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By Joris Ranchin and Cuauhtemoc Rebolledo-Gómez
Staticians, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division

International students are one of the fastest growing parts of the global education system. In just 20 years their numbers have more than doubled, and there are now over 4 million young people currently studying abroad to get their degree. Driven as much by a rise in tertiary education as by an increasingly globalised world, they are taking advantage of cheaper travel and communication costs to improve their language skills, get high-status qualifications – and give themselves a leg up in a competitive job market. But they’re not the only ones benefiting. The countries they are flocking to are cashing in while countries like China encourage their young people to travel abroad to study in order to bring their new skills home.

So who are these new students and where do they go? The latest edition of Education Indicators in Focus suggests that the global market in education is changing a…

Competitions: the secret to developing and measuring skills?

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Interview with David Hoey, Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills International
by Cassandra Davis and Julie Harris, Editors, Educationtoday
“A high-performing athlete is the result of his or her training,” he explained during a break at the OECD Forum in Paris in May, focusing in on the question of how one benchmarks skills development and acquisition. “A well-trained athlete will perform well. But how do you measure ‘well’? Competitions draw out real excellence. By creating international skills competitions, deep learning can be demonstrated and witnessed. But more than that, competitions introduce fun into the process with games, introduces a healthy competitive spirit, and raises both levels and training. At WorldSkills, we’ve instituted a ranking and a scoring system, at the individual, sector and country levels.”
If we didn’t know better, we’d returned to the first Olympic games.

David Hoey, Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills International spoke to us of the international ski…