“Across OECD countries, almost one in five students does not reach a basic minimum level of skills to function in society, and roughly the same proportion of students drops out of school before completing their secondary education”, this concludes the OECD in its background report for the 2014 International Summit on the Teaching Profession (#ISTP2014).
This year’s ISTP summit will be held on the 28th and 29th of March in Wellington, New Zealand.
Rising benefits of skills
Personal or social circumstances can be obstacles to achieving potential, the OECD warns. “Therefore OECD countries should pay attention to disadvantaged students, who are twice as likely as their advantaged peers to be poor performers.”
“In the OECD countries with the largest expansion of university-level education over the past few decades, most still see rising earnings differentials for tertiary graduates, which suggests that the increase in the number of ‘knowledge workers’ has not led to a decrease in their pay, as was the case for low-skilled workers.”
“Skilled individuals are also more likely to volunteer, to see themselves as actors, rather than objects, in the political process, to report good health, and to trust others; and trust is the foundation on which democracies are built. As the benefits – both social and economic – for the highly skilled keep rising, the economic and social penalties for individuals without adequate skills are becoming more severe.”
Clear focus on equity
The OECD concludes therefor that it should be a policy imperative to provide all individuals with the knowledge and skills to participate fully in our economies and societies, to collaborate, compete and connect.
“This has profound implications for teachers, students and for the leadership of schools and education systems. The most advanced education systems now set ambitious goals for all students, with a clear focus on equity, and are clear about what students should be able to do. They also equip their teachers with the pedagogic skills that have been proven effective and with enough autonomy so that teachers can use their own creativity in determining the content and instruction they need to provide to their students.”
Since the quality of teaching is at the heart of student learning outcomes, it is an appealing idea to invite education leaders from high-performing and rapidly improving education systems to explore the extent to which success in education and some of the policies related to success transcend cultures and countries. This is the aim of the fourth International Summit on the Teaching Profession, held in Wellington, New Zealand in March 2014 and hosted by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the OECD and Education International.
The Summit brings together education ministers, union leaders and other teacher leaders from high-performing and rapidly improving education systems, as measured by PISA, to discuss equity, excellence and inclusiveness in education by exploring three questions:
• How are high-quality teachers developed, and how do schools with the greatest need attract and retain them?
• How can equity be ensured in increasingly devolved education systems?
• What kinds of learning environments address the needs of all students?
The background report was drafted by Andreas Schleicher and is based on internationally comparative studies conducted by the OECD, including the PISA 2012 assessment, the policy review Equity and Quality in Education (OECD, 2012) and the policy review Teachers Matter (OECD, 2005).