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Entering the “black box”: Teachers’ and students’ views on classroom practices

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by Pablo Fraser 
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills
Noémie Le Donné
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills


“What happened in school today?” is a question that many parents across the world ask their children when they get home. Many parents also attend school meetings in order to understand how their child’s learning is developing. They talk with both children and teachers because they know that they are the best (and often only) source of information about what is happening in the classroom. At the same time, many teachers would like to know about how other teachers teach, both in their own country and abroad.

The truth is that what happens in the classrooms still often remains an open question for those outside it.  Research has shown that the practices used in the classroom are the most important factor affecting students’ outcomes. In other words, it is the interactions between teachers and students that, ultimately, shape the learning environment. Thus, it becomes …

Which careers do students go for?

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


Career decisions are wrought in complexities. Many students start by looking at their interests, selecting a career in line with their personal affinities or aspirations. They will consider their own self-beliefs in their capacity to perform and succeed in a given career, and then factor in labour market prospects, employment, earnings, and the possibilities to progress in their chosen profession over a lifetime.

But career decisions are not only about students’ choices: they also interact with a number of public policy objectives, such as making education systems more efficient, aligning skills to the demands of the labour market, and helping improve social equity. Some countries have sought to promote certain fields or pathways over others through financial incentives or by opening access. Conversely, other fields impose highly selective admissions processes. As students are confronted with more possibilitie…

Building trust in exams

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills


Quality high-stakes exams have always been one of the most reliable predictors of the performance of an education system. They signal what matters for educational success and they ensure fairness and transparency in the gateways to the next stage of education or to the workforce. But getting the design of exams wrong can hold education systems back, narrowing the scope of what is valued and what is taught, or encouraging shortcuts, cramming and integrity violations. 
So if you are searching for promising practices in this area these days, it is worth having a look at Russia. Surprised? True, for a long time Russian’s had lost trust in exam scores and degrees because of fraud and misconduct in examinations. But for well over a decade, Russia has worked persistently on addressing these issues and its unified state exam now offers one of the most advanced and transparent ways of assessing student learning outcomes at scho…

Back to school time: “Think beyond grades – to life”

Facebook Live session with Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills by Marilyn Achiron, Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

This back-to-school moment is a great time to grab a few minutes with Andreas Schleicher, head of the Directorate for Education and Skills, to get his thoughts about preparing for – and succeeding in – the school year ahead.

In our Facebook LIVE interview yesterday, he said that “there’s always something interesting happening in school”, and suggested that students “think beyond grades – to life”. Schleicher said of teaching that “there’s probably no tougher job today”.

What is common to the best-performing countries in PISA? According to Schleicher, these countries “believe in the future more than in consumption today; they make an investment in education”; “they believe in the success of every child”; and “they can attract the most talented teachers to the most challenging classrooms”.

We also talked about student anxiet…

Awarding – and imagining – teaching excellence

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Tonight, the winners of the Higher Education Academy’s newly launched Global Teaching Excellence Award will be announced. The award is a milestone in advancing the higher education agenda. It’s time for teaching excellence to attain the same status and recognition as academic research, which still seems the dominant metric for valuing academic institutions, whether we look at rankings published in the media or research assessment frameworks or at performance-based funding for research.

There are compelling reasons to change this, and the award makes a start.

Tertiary qualifications have become the entrance ticket for modern societies. Never before have those with advanced qualifications had the life chances they enjoy today, and never before have those who struggled to acquire a good education paid the price they pay today. There are always those who argue that the share of young people entering higher education or ad…

What happens with your skills when you leave school?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills


Moving from the world of school to the world of work is one of the most dramatic changes in the lives of young people. And for many youngsters this transition does not go smoothly. Spells of frictional or longer-term unemployment, job insecurity because of low-paid or temporary contracts, and the uncertainties associated with starting to live autonomously produce a challenging phase in young people’s lives. The most vulnerable people are those who fall between the two systems: the so-called NEETs (not in employment, education or training), who are no longer in school and are either unemployed or inactive. Some 6% of 15-19 year-olds in OECD countries – in other words, half of those of that age who have left school, or around 5 million young people – are NEET.


A new Education Indicators in Focus brief looks at the transition from school to work across different age groups. It re…

Do countries have to choose between more educated or better-educated children?

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by Francesco Avvisati
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

While Joana, a 15-year-old girl from Fortaleza in Brazil, was sitting the PISA test in 2015, her cousin, also 15 but living in the countryside, was busy working in the family business. In fact, by the time they turn 15, many adolescents in low- and middle-income countries are no longer enrolled in school (or have never been), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. But soon, those children may be able to sit a PISA test specifically designed for out-of-school youth.

Increasing the educational attainment of young adults has been the focus of much effort over recent decades. But we all know that having children spend more time in school does not guarantee that every student will learn. For this reason, the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), which defines the new global agenda for education and was adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, emphasises improvements in the quality of educa…