Showing posts from December, 2014

Skills and wage inequality across labour markets

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

In a completely open labour market, earnings from employment would compensate individuals for their contribution to the organisation’s economic success. The price put on one’s labour also depends on the abundance or scarcity of the individual’s specific set of skills in the market. But economic price-setting mechanisms do not operate in a vacuum, and are heavily influenced by political and institutional factors that, in themselves, are often the outcome of long histories of social conflict and compromise.

Governments tend to regulate minimum wages and other framework conditions, while sectoral collective labour agreements set rules for salary increases by seniority or educational qualifications. Such arrangements serve to set minimum wages and living standards for vulnerable workers. In fact, some of the rationales underlying wage differentials across the labour market are inc…

The efficiency of Italian schools in an international perspective

by Tommaso Agasisti,
Politecnico di Milano School of Management, and TJ Alexander Fellow at OECD

Budget cuts in public services are today common across countries. For schools, as everywhere else, we constantly hear calls for ways to do more with less. Efficiency, it seems, has crept up to the top of the policy agenda. The question is whether the quality of learning is suffering due budget cuts, and if the quality of learning is compromised by fewer resources.

In most countries, educational results have not progressed in line with the increases in resources used by schools. Large scale international assessments, such as PISA, opens the door to new research on efficiency. Using PISA 2012 data, we estimated efficiency for almost 9 000 schools operating in 30 countries. In this context, efficiency is defined in a technical sense: inputs are the number of teachers per student, the number of computers per teacher (measures that provide us with an idea of the amount of human and material res…

What works best for learning in schools

by Cassandra Davis,
Communications Manager, Directorate for Education and Skills

Professor John Hattie is held in high esteem as an education researcher and was called “possibly the world’s most influential education academic” by the Times Educational Supplement in 2012. He rose to international prominence with the publication of his two books Visible Learning (2008) and Visible Learning for Teachers (2011). Since March 2011, Professor Hattie has been Director of the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Professor Hattie is also the Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). Communications Manager Cassandra Davis asked him about his research of what works best for learning in schools.

Cassandra Davis: Building a force of effective school leaders demands that teachers be open to assessments and professional development. How do you convince teachers to avail themselves of these opportunities – particularly tho…

Trouble with homework

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

It’s sometimes hard to tell who has more trouble with homework: students or their parents. PISA results show that homework, itself, may inadvertently perpetuate a problem that goes far beyond spoiling a student’s evening or a parent’s self-esteem. As this month’s PISA in Focus explains, homework may widen the performance gap between students from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Students everywhere are assigned homework by their teachers, and across OECD countries in 2012, 15-year-old students reported that they spend almost five hours per week doing homework. (If you think that’s a lot, it’s actually one hour less per week than the average reported in 2003 – and 9 hours less per week than students in Shanghai-China reported in 2012.)

The problem lies not so much in the amount of time spent doing homework, but in differences in the amount of time spent doing homework that are related to students’ socio-economic status…

Shedding light on teaching and learning across education levels

by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills 

Looking at teachers at all levels of education, we learn that the majority of teachers are women. In all countries, the percentage of male teachers is particularly low in primary schools where teaching is still seen as a women’s job.  As a result young children are missing out on role models of both sexes.

New insights from TALIS 2013: Teaching and learning in primary and upper secondary education reveals that women constitute more than 65% of the work force on average, in all six countries that surveyed primary teachers, ranging from 67% in Mexico to 86% in Poland. In contrast, at least 30% of upper secondary teachers across all ten surveyed countries are male and the percentage of female teachers ranges from 48% in Denmark to 68% in Poland. Interestingly, this gender imbalance at the level of teachers does not translate into the same distribution of leadership positions for men and women. School principals in many co…

Man with a mission

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

David Puttnam had a storied 30-year career as an independent film producer (The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, to cite just a few of his award-winning films) before he retired from film production to focus on public policy related to education, the environment, and the creative and communications industries. Lord Puttnam, who is now the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma, the Republic of Ireland’s Digital Champion, and chair of Ireland-based Atticus Education, which delivers interactive seminars on film and other subjects to educational institutions around the world, quit school at 16. (“I was bored to tears,” he says. “It was night school that saved me.”) Marilyn Achiron, editor at the Directorate of Education and Skills, met with Lord Puttnam in early November when he was in Paris to give a keynote address to the CERI Conference on Innovation…