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Showing posts from November, 2013

Learning for jobs: Quality pays off

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by Dirk Van Damme and Rodrigo Castaneda Valle
Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills



In 2010 the OECD published Learning for Jobs, a major review of vocational education and training (VET). The economic crisis has since continued to worsen the job prospects for young people in many OECD countries.  To counterbalance governments have increasingly been looking to strengthen vocational tracks in secondary education as a way to better prepare youth for the job market. The evidence base on VET remains weak, however Education at a Glance is providing improved data on VET systems and the latest issue of Education Indicators in Focus draws attention to some interesting findings.
The very basic policy question that governments ask is: Do more and better VET programmes help to improve employment prospects for young people? International evidence shows us that VET programmes are a costly investment. VET programmes are expected to be up-to-date with the la…

Timekeeping order in the classroom

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by Gabriela Moriconi
Thomas J. Alexander fellow to TALIS in the Directorate for Education and Skills

I have mostly good memories of my high school years in São Paulo, but among them I have one that might sound bizarre.  There was never any toilet paper in the school restrooms. Back then, someone explained to me that the reason behind this was vandalism. Students would perform various acts of vandalism, such as making little balls of wet paper to throw at the ceiling or to clog up the toilets. My school was not considered particularly “difficult”. In fact, I had to compete with other students to study in that school, because it was considered one of the best public schools in my hometown, São Paulo. Recently, I learned that this remains a very common concern in Brazilian public schools.

Although this may seem like a rather insignificant issue, I think it reflects two major problems in Brazilian education: widespread poor disciplinary climate and the incapacity to deal with it. Teachers…

What teachers know and how that compares with college graduates around the world

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by Andreas Schleicher
Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's SecretaryGeneral

Numeracy test scores of tertiary graduates and teachers One of the most frequent claims I have heard from people trying to explain poor learning outcomes in their country is that their teachers come from the bottom third of their college graduates, while high-performing countries recruit their teachers from the top third. It sounds plausible, since the quality of a school system will never exceed the quality of teaching. And, surely, top school systems pay much attention to how they select their staff. They work hard to improve the performance of teachers who are struggling, they provide an environment in which teachers work together to frame good practice, and they establish intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers.

But, again, does all that mean that in those countries the top third graduates chose to become teachers rather than la…

What do we really know about teaching?

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

I have often heard it said that everyone thinks they are an expert on education simply because they went to school. This is an overstatement, of course, but it does seem today that more and more people have – and express – an opinion about teachers and the quality of their teaching.

But what do we really know about how the majority of teachers are teaching today? Data from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) show that on average across TALIS countries, 13% of teachers did not receive any appraisal or feedback on their teaching. In several countries, this number approaches a quarter or even half of teachers in the country. One can imagine these teachers as completely alone, teaching with the door closed and never receiving feedback on how to improve their practice.

The eighth Education Fast Forward online debate will take place today to discuss in more detail the development o…

Reforming education systems: Where to start?

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by the Education Policy Outlook Team
Policy Advice and Implementation Division, Directorate for Education and Skills
Today the OECD Education Policy Outlook series is publishing five new country profiles: Chile, Finland, Mexico, Norway and Turkey. Policy makers and educational professionals will gain key insights into other countries’ recent experiences in education. These summaries outline how countries have responded to common challenges and provide lessons learnt about the different policy options adopted, as well as reflections on how to make reform happen in education.

Even when countries address similar reform areas, policy options vary widely.  For example, Chile, Finland, Mexico and Norway have all made early childhood education and care (ECEC) a priority, but in different ways. Chile and Mexico have increased funding and focused on quality aiming for universal coverage; Norway has invested in increasing accessibility, funding and staff; while Finland has defined a core curric…

It’s PISA time again. So?

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by Marilyn Achiron
Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Results from the most recent round of PISA surveys are scheduled for release in less than one month (3 December). Why should you care?

For lots of reasons, really. This month’s PISA in Focus highlights a few. For  example, the recently published Survey of Adult Skills finds a close link between countries’ performance in the different rounds of PISA and the literacy and numeracy proficiency of adults of the corresponding age group later on. This is an important connection because the Survey of Adult Skills reveals that highly skilled adults are twice as likely to be employed and almost three times more likely to earn an above-median salary than poorly skilled adults. In other words, poor skills severely limit people’s access to better-paying and more rewarding jobs. Highly skilled people are also more likely to volunteer, see themselves as actors rather than as objects of political processes, and are more likely to trust ot…

Time for the U.S. to Reskill?

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by Viktoria Kis
Analyst, Skills Beyond School Division, Directorate for Education and Skills

A few decades ago young people in the United States were among the most educated in the world, but other countries have caught up. Today, despite still being relatively highly educated, the skills of adults lag behind those of adults in many other countries. This has been revealed by the new international Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), which measured the skills of adults in 24 countries.
A newly published report, Time for the U.S. to Reskill?, looks at the U.S. and draws some challenging policy conclusions. One in six adults in the U.S., about 36 million people, has weak literacy skills – they can, at best, read short texts and understand basic vocabulary. In Japan the comparable figure is one in 20. In the U.S. nearly one in three have weak numeracy skills against a cross country average of one in five.

These results are not impressive, but what is really worrying is that there are few signs o…

Learning in rural China: The challenges for teachers

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by Andreas Schleicher
Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD's Secretary General

Mr. Huang became principal of Qiao Tou Lian He school at the age of 25, not because he was specifically trained for the post, but because he had been the only educated person in his village. He’s a dynamic leader who is squarely focused on supporting, developing and evaluating his teachers, of whom only a handful have a high school degree and more than basic teacher training.

The teaching conditions in the rural Qiao Tou Lian He school, 3,000 kilometres southwest of Shanghai, are tough and teachers are struggling. In Shanghai, teachers not only have smaller classes, but they can also rely on much better initial preparation and more extensive training opportunities at the school, district and municipal levels. They spend 70% of their time teaching and 30% of their time learning, often in collaboration with teachers from other schools. In many countri…