Showing posts from September, 2014

Who is most likely to be left back at school?

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

It was the kind of thing you whispered about with your classmates, while for the kid himself – and it usually was a “he” – it was an embarrassment that some tried, unsuccessfully, to dress up as a badge of honour. Being left back at school was no joke; and the practice continues to take a toll on millions of students every year – even though it does little to benefit the individual student who is required to repeat a grade.

The latest PISA in Focus highlights how successive rounds of PISA have found that grade repetition shows no clear benefit, either for individual students or for school systems as a whole. It is also an expensive way of handling underachievement, since the students who are left back are more likely to drop out of school entirely, or stay longer in the school system and so spend less time in the labour force.

Some countries have begun to realise that grade repetition is neither cheap nor particularly effe…

Is expanding access to higher education worth the price?

by Dirk van Damme Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills
As Education at a Glance 2014  found, education systems continue to expand and levels of educational attainment continue to rise throughout the world. Across OECD countries in 2012, 32% of 25-64 year-olds – over 220 million individuals – held a tertiary degree. Among young adults, the proportion is even higher: 40%. Never before have so many people attained that level of education. Just 12 years earlier, only 22% of 25-64 year-olds had a tertiary education. The tertiary attainment rate among 25-34 year-olds grew by an average of 3.4% per year between 2000 and 2012, and in most countries, it is not likely to slow down anytime soon.
Such a rapid increase in both participation  and completion rates for tertiary studies puts a huge stress on countries’ education systems and governments’ capacity to support tertiary educational institutions. Indicators on expenditure show that betw…

Hungry for some education data? Go no further…

by Dirk van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills

The 2014 edition of Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is released today. Find out how your country compares with others in such areas as who participates in education, and to what level; the wage premium for workers with higher education; how much of the public budget is devoted to education; what teachers earn; which countries are most attractive to international students; how education, skills and employment are inter-related; and much, much more. To whet your appetite, try our interactive data charts below.

Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators
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Press release: Educational mobility starts to slow in industrialised world, says OECD
Wednesday September 10 at 17h Paris time - OECD Education and Skills webinar presenting Education at a Glance: 2014 OECD Indicators (registration required. Password: OECD…

Act now to boost Norway’s skills

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills 

When Norway makes the front page, the focus is usually on the country’s vast natural resources which have generated the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. In today’s economic climate, this is definitely good news.

Yet if you look beyond the headlines there is little room for complacency. Norway faces slowing productivity growth in the mainland economy, high labour costs and modest levels of entrepreneurship and innovation.

How can these challenges be tackled? In the words of Prime Minister Solberg, “Skills are the cure”. Skills are central to ensuring Norway’s future competitiveness as well as the health, wealth and well-being of its people. The economic value of Norway’s skills could be over ten times the value of its natural resources, and while the latter are finite and declining the former are infinite. The difficulty is that skills and oil don't usually mix very well. Most of the world’s oil-rich countr…

Sowing the seeds of education reform

by Marilyn Achiron, 
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Plant a tree? Easy: dig up soil, insert sapling, cover roots with soil, water abundantly.

Unless the tree you want to plant is from Japan and the soil in which you want to plant it is in Paris. Then you have to negotiate with two different ministries of agriculture and arrange to have a branch of a Japanese cherry blossom tree grafted onto roots developed in France before you can follow the four simple steps above.

Who knew?

As it turns out, apart from illustrating how even the simplest and most well-intentioned act of gift-giving could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare if not properly thought out, the plan to plant a Japanese cherry blossom tree on the grounds of OECD headquarters in Paris, in gratitude for the organisation’s support of the Tohoku School, offered the Japanese students involved yet another example of why learning how to learn is as important as what one learns.

The OECD-Tohoku School project was born in …

More data for better policies

by Dirk van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills

As recently as 30 years ago, politicians, leaders and practitioners believed that all economic and social systems could and should be measured, and that managing these systems better would require more data. Except for education systems. Education systems were considered to be so different across countries that international data would never do justice to each system’s specificity. And what happened in the classroom was something believed to be unmeasurable. Yes, maybe you could count the number of students or calculate the years people spend in school; but that was basically it.

Some pioneers had the courage to think differently. Against the tide, and confronting a lot of resistance, they organised international network meetings to discuss the essence of what was happening in education, agree on definitions, develop measurement tools, and exchange and compare data. After all,…

How do teachers really feel about their job?

by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

September marks the return to school for many students, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, and the return to classrooms for many teachers. It is difficult to know exactly what teachers around the world are thinking as they walk into their classrooms. However, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) provides us with some useful insights into how teachers feel about their profession and its standing in society.

Media often paints a picture of dissatisfied teachers who are unhappy with their jobs. TALIS findings offer a different view: most of teachers enjoy their job and see the advantages of being a teacher as clearly outweighing the disadvantages. This is good news for education systems around the world:  job satisfaction has important implications for teacher attrition as well as teachers’ attitudes about their job. Teachers who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay in their profess…