Success of education reforms threatened by lack of oversight, says OECD


19/01/2015 - Governments around the world are under growing pressure to improve their education systems. Rising spending is increasingly being matched by reforms to help disadvantaged children, invest in teachers and improve vocational training. But a widespread lack of evaluation of the impact of these reforms could hinder their effectiveness and hurt educational outcomes, according to a new OECD report.


Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen finds that once new policies are adopted, there is little follow-up. Only around one in 10 of the 450 different reforms put in place between 2008 and 2014 were evaluated for their impact by governments between their launch and the publication of this report.


Measuring policy impact more rigorously and consistently will prove more cost-effective in the long-run, says the OECD. It will also ensure that future reforms are built on policies proven to work over a timeframe independent of political cycles or pressures.


“Too many education reforms are failing to measure success or failure in the classroom,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, at the launch of the report at the Education World Forum in London. “While it is encouraging to see a greater focus on outcomes, rather than simply increasing spending, it’s crucial that reforms are given the time to work and their impact is analysed.”


“Education represents 12.9% of government spending, with total expenditure across the OECD exceeding 2.5 trillion dollars a year, equivalent to the GDP of the United Kingdom,” he added. “This valuable investment must be deployed in the most effective way. Reforms on paper need to translate into better education in our schools and classrooms.”


The report finds a trend of reform priorities converging across the OECD. Of the reforms analysed, most focused on: supporting disadvantaged children and early childhood care; reforming vocational education systems and building links with employers; improving training and professional development for teachers; and strengthening school evaluation and assessment.


A second OECD report underlines the continuing need for improving education. Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of Employment and Educational Attainment Indicators finds that almost one in six 25-34 year-olds across OECD countries does not have the skills considered essential to function in today’s society, and the situation has changed little since 2003.


There are 13 OECD countries with 15% or more unqualified youth, including countries like France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand or Italy.


“Having one out of every six young adults entering the world of adult life without a qualification is a major risk for labour markets and societies, said Andreas Schleicher. “Progress has to be achieved across the educational ladder, with priority given to diminishing the share of the least educated among the young.”


For further information, journalists should contact the OECD Media division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).


 A fully embeddable version of Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen is available, together with information about downloadable and print versions of the report.


Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of Employment and Educational Attainment Indicators


Click here to read Andreas Schleicher’s presentation:




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