Showing posts from February, 2012

“We do things differently here”: evaluation and assessment in New Zealand schools

by Deborah Nusche
Policy Analyst,  Early Childhood and Schools Division, Directorate for Education

New Zealand’s consistent high performance in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has sparked international curiosity about the ingredients of its success.

New Zealand’s education system is unique in many ways. It has probably gone furthest among OECD countries in allowing schools to run themselves. In turn, it’s not surprising that evaluation and assessment is very much in the hands of schools and their Boards, and the main policy focus has been to build their capacity to do this. Notably, student assessment relies strongly on the professionalism of teachers to assess and report on student learning. A new OECD report on evaluation and assessment in New Zealand schools provides in-depth information about the country’s unique approach to evaluating student, school and system progress.

What struck the review team most about New Zealand’s approach was the great am…

Increasing higher education access: one goal, many approaches

by J.D. LaRock
Senior Analyst, Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education

Few would dispute that having a higher education is more important than ever to help people build positive economic futures and strengthen the knowledge economies of countries. Yet as the second issue of the OECD’s new brief series Education Indicators in Focus explains, OECD countries have adopted dramatically different strategies for increasing higher education access – both in terms of how higher education is financed, and in the level of financial support they provide to individuals seeking a degree.

For example, in countries with more progressive tax structures, such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, students pay low or no tuition fees and have access to generous public subsidies for higher education. Tuition fees are much higher in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United States, but students in these countries also have access to significant fi…

Cooking up success: why Finns learn better

by Hannah von Ahlefeld
Analyst, OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments

Has well-known Finnish cartoonist B. Virtanen hit on the recipe for success in Finland’s exemplary education system? The OECD / CELE conference in Finland this week will reveal all.
Consistently, Finnish students have earned top marks from the OECD’s landmark PISA study, which tests the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in more than 70 countries. Finland has won recognition as an international reference point for best practice in educational improvement, creating a wave of so-called PISA tourism. 
While some success factors, or ingredients, are relatively simple to identify and measure – such as a well-paid, well-trained and highly valued teaching force, a homogenous society, and a focus on equity and inclusion – others are not so simple to define. And the way in which those ingredients are mixed together is all important.
There is intense interest today in the nature of learning and creating the…

The Future of the Teaching Profession

by Kristen Weatherby
Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

Teachers are the focus of media attention in many countries these days. Governments want to see increases in the achievement levels of their students, so naturally the discussion turns to the quality of the teaching and learning in schools and with that, the effectiveness of teachers.
What does all of this focused attention–and the accompanying reforms to teacher qualifications, evaluations, and often their pay structure–mean for today’s teachers and for the future of the teaching profession? Last Thursday and Friday, I attended a conference at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to discuss those questions and others. The conference was organised by Leadership for Learning in the Faculty of Education at Cambridge, together with Education International (the global federation of teacher organisations, the OECD, and the Open Society Foundations. It included representatives from government,…

All that money can’t buy

by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education 

We can now add something else to the growing list of things money alone can’t buy: love, happiness–and strong performance in PISA. Results from PISA 2009 show that there is a threshold beyond which a country’s wealth is unrelated to its overall score in PISA.

Among moderately wealthy economies whose per capita GDP is up to around USD 20 000 (Estonia, Hungary, the Slovak Republic and the partner country Croatia, for example), the greater the country’s wealth, the higher its mean score on the PISA reading test. But PISA results indicate that above this threshold of USD 20 000 in per capita GDP, national wealth is no longer a good predictor of a country’s mean performance in PISA. And the amount these high-income countries devote to education also appears to have little relation to their overall performance in PISA. PISA looked at cumulative expenditure on education–the total dollar amount spent on educating a student from the age of 6 t…

Tackling inequity

by Barbara Ischinger
Director for Education

What struck me most about the international roundtable on early childhood education and care that I attended late last month in Oslo was the simple fact that this topic attracted such intense interest. It probably wouldn’t have happened a decade ago. The fact that it’s happening now, even as most of the countries represented at the meeting are in the midst of an economic crisis, is an encouraging sign. It shows that more governments understand that equity of opportunity has to begin in the first years of life, in the earliest years of a child’s education, in order to give everyone a fair chance to succeed later on.

As recent headlines repeatedly tell us, and as is evident just looking around us, equity has become something of an endangered ideal. And this is, unfortunately, just as true in education as in many other areas of life. OECD research finds that one in five students does not complete secondary school; yet our research also shows tha…