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Showing posts from September, 2018

Special needs students still struggle to access quality education. Here’s how teachers can help.

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By Aakriti Kalra
Teaching and Learning International Survey, Directorate for Education and Skills

It is a shared international understanding that access to education is a human right that must be guaranteed for all children. Yet barriers to access and quality have made education elusive for the world’s 93 million students with special needs.

Teacher preparedness remains a particularly significant barrier to quality learning for special needs students. According to a new study based on data from the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), about 70% of teachers who participated in TALIS teach in classrooms with at least some special needs students. These teachers tend to be less experienced and trained than those who do not teach in classrooms with special needs students. The majority of teachers who participated in the survey also expressed a need for training in special needs education.

Only a limited percentage of teachers said they had previously participated in prof…

Why experience matters in teaching

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By Francesco Avvisati
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills


It often takes years of reflective practice to master complex, non-routine jobs. And few jobs today are more sophisticated and complex than teaching.

As parents and citizens, we expect students to leave schools not only with a solid foundation in reading, mathematics and other subjects; we also expect students to leave school as lifelong learners, with the ability to think critically about complex issues, and the will to constantly adapt to change. And we expect schools to contribute to the well-being of our children, and to strengthen the fabric of our societies.

Much of the burden of delivering on these expectations falls on teachers, who are the most significant resource in today’s schools. And it is easy for teachers to feel overwhelmed by these expectations, particularly at the beginning of their careers.

There is no doubt that classroom experience is important to develop the skills required for effective teaching…

How technology is enabling new ways of writing

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by Joshua Polchar
Policy Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

We could be on the brink of a fundamental change in how we produce and use written material.

Changes and improvements in writing technologies have occurred at several points in human history. Our instruments of handwriting have evolved from imprints in clay to brushes and ink, to the now-ubiquitous ballpoint pen (a surprisingly difficult device to perfect). Print and digital reproduction have allowed texts to be mass produced and distributed to audiences numbering in the billions; and smartphones have given us new ways to express ourselves in writing, as evidenced by the widespread use of emoji.

What these changes in writing technology have in common is that they all make the writing process – the physical act of making a mark – faster and more efficient. Historically, the meaning of that mark – its use and the content it signifies – was always determined by a human writer. But this is no longer the case. Computers …

Education at a Glance 2018: on the road to equity in education

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By Marie-Helene Doumet
Senior Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

For many in the Northern hemisphere, September means it’s time to head back to school. As students start feeling the excitement of the first day, many parents, policy leaders, and governments are thinking about how to best prepare our children for their future.

One of the most pressing topics on many agendas is how to reduce the achievement gap across populations and ensure that all have access to a quality education. Education serves as the foundation of our progression through life, and policy makers around the world have made it their priority to guarantee that personal and social circumstances – such as gender, socio-economic status or country of origin – do not inhibit personal growth and achievement.

The OECD contributes to the back-to-school debate through the release of its annual flagship publication, Education at a Glance. Set to be published on Tuesday 11 September, the upcoming edition focuses…

The Earth is looking for environmentally mindful students

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by Alfonso Echazarra
Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills


During the 1970s researchers observed that the amount of ozone in the atmosphere was decreasing moderately and an ozone “hole” was visibly expanding around the polar regions. The idea of a rapidly-growing hole in the atmosphere – which could have fatal consequences for humanity – caught on with the public so strongly that people reduced their use of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting substances, and compelled companies and governments to take action. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed, phasing out the use of some of these substances in industry. Researchers say that the ozone layer is now recovering, if slowly. This success story is exceptional – see, for instance, the challenges in addressing global warming – but it shows how important it is to increase our youth’s environmental awareness for the future of Earth.

Looking into the environmental awareness of 15-year-olds, this month’s PISA in Focus