09/02/2012 - Governments should invest more in disadvantaged schools and students to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance, according to a new OECD report.
Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools says that helping those in need would reduce school failure, boost economic growth and contribute to a fairer society.
Today, many students lack basic skills, as measured by PISA, and one in five students on average across the OECD drops out of the education system before finishing upper secondary. Dropout rates range from 2% in Korea to 58% in Turkey for the 25-34 years-old. Greece, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Spain have dropout rates of 25% and higher. Leaving school this early means that students lack the skills they need in today’s job market, says the OECD.
Proportion of 25-34 years-old who have not completed upper secondary education (2009)
Underlying data available here
Those more likely to underperform or leave school without qualification are most often from poor or immigrant families, or have poorly educated parents (Figure 1.3). They are also more likely to attend schools with fewer resources, and their parents generally cannot afford private tutoring.
The report outlines five recommendations for improving equity in education systems to help disadvantaged students:
- Eliminate grade repetition. This is costly and ineffective. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, the direct costs of grade repetition account for nearly 10% of the annual spending on primary and secondary education. The academic benefits are also slight and short-lived.
- Avoid early tracking which hurts students moved on to lower tracks, without raising student performance as a whole.
- Manage school choice to avoid segregation. Over the past 25 years, more than two-thirds of OECD countries have increased parental school choice, particularly via government-dependent private schools. Financial incentives could encourage the best schools to take disadvantaged students.
- Allocate funding according to student needs, and invest in early ages. Most OECD countries under-spend on early childhood education and care, investing nearly 2.5 times more in tertiary. In addition to targeting spending at disadvantaged students and schools, giving schools more autonomy coupled with accountability can help.
- Encourage students to complete by improving the quality of secondary-level vocational training courses, including work-based training and making the different secondary pathways equivalent.
To help disadvantaged schools, the OECD proposes 5 additional recommendations and says that boosting support for school directors and teachers is key. This should involve training and mentoring, as well as improved working conditions and incentives to attract and retain the best staff. In these schools it is also especially important to build bridges with parents, through more communication and clear expectations to align schools and parental efforts.
Participating country reports
The Country Background Reports were prepared by countries according to a common framework.
The Country Spotlight Reports have been prepared in light of the comparative report and its recommendations.
>> Read more at www.oecd.org/edu/equity.
>> The report is available to journalists in English on the OECD's password-protected website, or by PDF on request via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> For more information, journalists should contact Beatriz Pont of the OECD’s Education Directorate (tel. + 33 1 45 24 1824)