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Showing posts from August, 2013

Who are the all-round top students?

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills
Summer in the northern hemisphere is barely over and we’re already talking about doing well in school? Not only are we talking about doing well in school, we’re talking about doing very well in school – and in all of the three subjects that PISA assesses: reading, mathematics and science. 
As this month’s PISA in Focus explains, all-rounders – students who attain proficiency Level 5 or 6 in all three assessment subjects – are rare: only 4.1% of 15-year-old students meet this high standard. Why do – or should – countries care about the number of all-rounders they produce? Knowing the proportion of students who excel in these three subjects helps countries to determine the depth of their future talent pool, which has significant implications for a country’s ability to compete and grow in an increasingly information-based global economy.

On average across OECD countries, 16.3% of students are top performers in at least one of …

How did the smartest kids in the world get that way?

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Last week, students, teachers and parents in New York State were stunned to learn that not even one in three third-through-eighth graders passed the new, state-wide English and math exams – tests aligned with the effort now underway in the United States to foster deep analytical and problem-solving skills and introduce more rigorous standards, known as the Common Core, into the country’s education system. While most US states have adopted the Common Core, disappointing first results are dampening enthusiasm for the reform: some states have already stopped rolling out the new exams, citing cost concerns.

I can think of one person who probably isn’t surprised by either the test scores or the resultant sulky foot-dragging to implement reforms: journalist and author Amanda Ripley.  In her new book, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way, published today in the United States by Simon and Schuster, Ripley sets…

Learning hard and “soft” skills through Internships

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Ben Lyons Co-Director of Intern Aware, a British-based campaigning organization that promotes the rights and interests of young people entering the professional world, answers questions posed by Cassandra Davis educationtoday’s editor during his visit to the OECD 2013 Forum.

educationtoday: What kinds of skills do today’s graduates need to succeed in the labour market? Should students acquire skills to meet labour-market demands or to fulfill their own aspirations?

As well as theoretical knowledge, most employers require the strong soft skills such as commercial awareness, communication, teamwork, problem-solving and organisation that can be gained through work-related learning. The crisis has exposed the fact that students are worse off in countries where education is overly academic and institutions are failing to equip students with the skills they need for the labour market. With a greater focus on the hard and soft skills developed through individually tailored apprenticeships and…