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Showing posts from May, 2015

Are schools ready to join the technological revolution?

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

When it comes to technology, education seems stuck in the age of chalkboards. But at an international conference on technology in education, held in Qingdao, China, last week, I got the feeling that educators and education ministers might finally be ready to join the technological revolution.

Right now, at a moment when information and communication technologies are changing the way we live in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, only around 37% of schools in Europe have high-end equipment and high-speed Internet connectivity, a figure which ranges from 5% in Poland to virtually 100% in Norway. But when asked, between 80% and 90% of school principals say that their schools are adequately equipped when it comes to computers and Internet connectivity – even principals in the many countries where the equipment is clearly substandard. So is technology not that important? Or are school leaders not aware of the potential of I…

Young people are our future: invest in their skills

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

More than 35 million 16-29 year-olds across OECD countries are neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) – and around half of all NEETs are out of school and not looking for work. These young people are likely to have dropped off the radar of their country’s education, social and labour market systems.

The OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability, launched today, asserts that this unacceptable waste of human potential stems partly from the fact that too many young people leave education without having acquired the right skills (according to the 2013 Survey of Adult Skills, 10% of new graduates have poor literacy skills and 14% have poor numeracy skills); and that not enough young people have experience in the world of work (less than 50% of students in vocational education and training programmes, and less than 40% of students in academic programmes in the 22 OECD countries and regions cove…

Thrown in at the deep end: support for teachers’ first years

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by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

The first day at work can be stressful for anyone. But what if that day involves teaching in front of a classroom filled with disruptive students? This may not be the reality for every new teacher, but as the new Teaching in Focus brief “Supporting new teachers” shows, it is the case for many.
TALIS 2013 finds that in many countries, new teachers (with less than five years’ teaching experience) are more likely to work in challenging schools than more experienced teachers. This means that they may be teaching in schools where more than 10% of students have special needs; or they may be located in a rural area, where schools often have fewer resources than urban schools.

Research shows that new teachers often lack the necessary skills to keep order in a classroom. As a result they spend less time teaching and more time managing students’ behaviour, which leads to their classrooms having a poorer climate than those of their…

Are efficient schools more inclusive?

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by Tommaso Agasisti
Thomas J. Alexander Fellow, Directorate for Education and Skills


Analysing the efficiency of education systems and organisations is at the forefront of today’s policy and academic debate. Various factors make efficiency more important than ever: declining public budgets, rising competition across public services for limited public expenditures, increasing demand for transparency in information about the costs and results of schools’ activities. From this perspective, fiscal consolidation in many countries depends on the ability of governments to proactively use information concerning the efficiency of public spending. When focussing on education, providing clear quantitative information about the efficiency of educational institutions has become more important than ever.

In the working paper, we propose an innovative use of PISA data for measuring the efficiency of schools in an international comparison; more specifically, we compare the efficiency scores of more t…

Education post-2015

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills


Next week, UNESCO will convene the world’s educational leaders in Incheon to set the agenda for educational development over the next 15 years. Those who think that’s mainly an agenda for the developing world should read our new report Universal basic skills - what countries stand to gain. The report shows the scale of the effort that is ahead even for many of the wealthiest nations to develop the essential skills that can transform lives, generate prosperity and promote social inclusion. And with a new global metric of the quality of learning outcomes, the report demonstrates that the world is no longer divided between rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly educated ones.

Importantly, the post-2015 agenda is no longer just about providing more people with more years of schooling, but about making sure that individuals acquire a solid foundation of knowledge in key disciplines, that they develop creative,…

Tough choices in school choice

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

For those parents who have the opportunity to do so, choosing a school for their child is one of the most important decisions they will make as parents – a decision that could have a lasting impact on their child’s life. What do parents look for when choosing a school for their child?

This month’s PISA in Focusreports on the criteria that parents consider before making this decision. Eleven countries and economies distributed a questionnaire to parents of 15-year-olds who sat the 2012 PISA test that asked them to report on the importance they ascribed to several criteria, including school quality, the distance from home to school, the school’s philosophy and financial considerations. Not surprisingly, the quality of the school – including such factors as academic achievement, reputation, environment and safety – comes first among parents. Yet, PISA finds that many parents value certain indicators of school quality – such a…

How Sweden’s school system can regain its old strength

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by Andreas Schleicher Director, Directorate for Education and Skills
During my days as a university student, I used to look to Sweden as the gold standard for education. A country which was providing high quality and innovative education to children across social ranks, and close to making lifelong learning a reality for all. My professor and mentor, Torsten Husén, was the architect of empirical educational science.
But not long after the turn of the 21st century, the Swedish school system seems to have lost its soul. Schools began to compete no longer just with superior learning outcomes, but by offering their students shiny buildings in shopping centres, or a driving license instead of better teaching. And while teachers were giving their students better marks each year, international comparisons portrayed a steady decline in student performance. Indeed, no other country taking part in PISA has seen a steeper fall. School discipline has worsened too, with students more likely to arri…