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Showing posts from September, 2015

Are the world’s schools making inequality worse?

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by William Schmidt
Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

The answer appears to be yes. Schooling plays a surprisingly large role in short-changing the most economically disadvantaged students of critical math skills, according to a study published today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Unequal access to rigorous mathematics content is widening the gap in performance on a prominent international math literacy test between low- and high-income students in countries worldwide.

Using data from PISA 2012, researchers from Michigan State University and the OECD confirmed not only that low-income students are more likely to be exposed to weaker math content in schools, but also that a substantial share of the gap in math performance between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students is related to those curriculuar inequalities.

The authors—William H. Schmidt, Nathan Burroughs, and Richard Houang, all of M…

Spain’s future prosperity depends on skills

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills


Spain is emerging from a challenging period. The good news is that the economy has returned to moderate growth and unemployment rates are falling. Yet Spain’s progress along the path to inclusive growth may well falter if steps are not taken today to boost skills outcomes.

Looking beyond today’s headlines lies the knowledge-based global economy of the future powered by skills and human capital. Without concerted efforts to improve Spain’s capacity to develop, activate and effectively use people’s skills, its companies will struggle to move up the global value chain and generate new jobs – while workers of all ages will be poorly equipped for fast-paced and innovative workplaces, and increasingly vulnerable to low-paid work or unemployment.

Yet skills affect more than just earnings and employment. Data from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) show that in all participating countries, including Spain, adults with l…

Classroom practices and teachers’ beliefs about teaching

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by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Every September, classrooms in the Northern hemisphere reopen to students and teachers for a new school year. What can students expect from their teachers this year? The new Teaching in Focus brief: Teaching beliefs and practice sheds light on some of the most common teaching practices and what teachers in Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) believe is the nature of teaching and learning.

Most teachers across TALIS systems see learning as a process where students are actively engaged in gaining knowledge and constructing meaning (in line with a constructivist view on teaching), as opposed to a process where students are passive recipients of information. For example, more than 90% of teachers see their role as a facilitator of their student’s own inquiry. These beliefs support the importance of independent and critical thinking, and students’ active construction of meaning.

However, when teachers are asked…

Students, computers and learning: Where’s the connection?

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Totally wired. That’s our image of most 15-year-olds and the world they inhabit. But a new, ground-breaking report on students’ digital skills and the learning environments designed to develop those skills, paints a very different picture. Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection finds that, despite the pervasiveness of information and communication technologies (ICT) in our daily lives, these technologies have not yet been as widely adopted in formal education. And where they are used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed, at best. This month’sPISA in Focusbores down deeper into the report to reveal a persistent disconnect between some students’ ability to read on paper and their ability to read on line.



PISA 2012 created a simulated browser environment, with websites, tabs and hyperlinks, in order to assess not only students’ reading performance, but also their web-browsing beh…

Back – and looking ahead – to school

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

It’s that time of year; and as sure as there are new pencil cases on desks, pristine notebooks in backpacks and fresh textbooks with nary a wrinkle up their spines, there’s a new batch of OECD reports ready to inform and challenge your thinking about education.


We’re particularly excited about a new PISA reportStudents, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, scheduled to be published on 15 September. If you thought all 15-year-olds knew everything there was to know about navigating their way around the web, or if you’re concerned that your child’s school is falling behind because it isn’t sufficiently “wired”, the findings of this report may surprise you.

The OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments project is poised to release a new book in October examining how some countries have moved from thinking about making their education systems more innovative to actually doing so – and changed some well-entrenched …