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Showing posts from March, 2019

How Italy developed a state-of-the-art school assessment culture

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By Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

I first visited Italy’s National Institute for Evaluation (INVALSI) in 1989. In those days, when it was called the CEDE, it was a place where academics debated educational research and contributed to international comparative studies. Back then, few would have thought the institute would build a comprehensive national assessment of the Italian school system. But two decades later, Italy has done just that. The country’s state-of-the-art assessment culture provides broad national diagnostics and tests the performance of students in multiple subjects and grade levels in all Italian schools.

But that’s still the easy part. A much harder task is to convert test results into meaningful feedback that can help improve teaching and learning, and enable schools to become more effective. Publishing league tables of schools doesn’t do the trick, because the performance of students and schools can depend on many things beyon…

How can teachers be more effective in diverse classrooms?

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By Neda Forghani-Arani
University of Vienna, Department for Teacher Education


Teaching is a complex, multifaceted task – especially at a time of rapid societal change. Recent migration patterns have led to increasingly diverse classrooms, which present new challenges to teachers.

There is a growing body of research on classroom diversity, with much of it focusing on the challenges that diverse classrooms pose, and potential solutions. But comparatively little is known about how teachers teach in such settings, or the preparation they need to succeed. A new OECD working paper takes a closer look at teachers’ experiences in diverse classrooms – and the competences they need to teach effectively.

In order to effectively engage with students from diverse backgrounds, teachers required the relevant knowledge and understanding, attitudes, values, skills and dispositions. Their efficacy also depends on their awareness of their own perspectives, assumptions and biases, and their ability to emp…

Should schools teach coding?

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By Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills


As technology continues to transform the skills that today’s students need to shape their future, many countries are responding by layering more content on top of their school curricula and timetables. Adding new subject material is an easy way for education systems to show that they are responding to emerging demands, but it is always harder to remove older material. As a result, teachers plough through a large amount of content, leaving students with a limited depth of understanding – one that is a mile wide and an inch deep. 

In today’s technology-rich world, many schools have begun teaching coding, the language we use to instruct today’s computers. It’s a skill that is in high demand, and there are intriguing examples of schools across the world teaching it in ways that are relevant and engaging for students. But the risk is that we will again be teaching students today’s techniques to solve tomorrow’s proble…

Leading together: insights from ministers and teachers on the future of education

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By Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills


The expectations we place on teachers are high and growing. We expect them to have a deep and broad understanding of what they teach, how their students learn, and of the students themselves. We also expect them to be passionate, compassionate and thoughtful; to make learning central and encourage students’ engagement and responsibility; to respond effectively to the needs of students from different backgrounds and languages; to promote tolerance and social cohesion; to provide continual feedback and assessments of students; and to ensure that students feel valued and included in collaborative learning. We expect teachers to collaborate with each other, and to work with other schools and parents to set common goals and monitor their attainment.

These expectations are so high, in part, because teachers make such a difference in students’ lives. People who are successful today typically had a teacher who took a rea…

Why context matters for social and emotional skills

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By Miloš Kankaraš
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills


In the British documentary series Seven Up, director Michael Apted follows a group of young children from different backgrounds throughout their lives. The first episode aired in 1964, when the children were seven years old, and a new installment has been released every seven years since. (In the most recent film, the “stars” are 56 years old.) It’s a remarkable feat of filmmaking, and its central message – that people’s lives are greatly influenced by the socio-economic conditions of their childhood – still resonates today.

In one especially memorable moment, two seven-year-old boys from a priviledged background are asked whether they want to go to university. Both explain their academic plans in great detail, right down to the names of the Cambridge colleges they would attend. When the same question is posed to another 7-year-old who lives in a charity home, he replies: “What does ‘university’ mean?”. Needless to say, th…