Education Policy Outlook Snapshot: Chile


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‌‌Chile’s educational context

Students: Chile performs below the OECD average in PISA 2012, with improvements in mathematics and reading performance and unchanged performance in science across PISA cycles, as well as progress in educational attainment compared to other OECD countries in recent years. Equity remains an issue, particularly for students from socio- economically disadvantaged backgrounds and from rural areas. The impact of socio- economic status on students’ mathematics performance is one of the largest among OECD countries. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Chile usually starts at age 4. Enrolment in pre-primary programmes has increased for 3-4 year-olds and remains below the OECD average. Education in Chile is compulsory from ages 6 to 18. Educational practices that may hinder greater progress in equity if not managed carefully include grade repetition, school choice and transfers to other schools for struggling secondary students. Attainment rates in upper secondary and tertiary education, as well as enrolment in upper secondary vocational education and training (VET), are below the OECD average. The transition into further education and the labour market is challenging, while unemployment in Chile is below average.

Institutions: Chile’s learning environments are at the OECD average and vary widely across schools, according to PISA findings. Schools’ autonomy over resource allocation and curriculum and assessment is above the OECD average. While the scores of candidates entering the teaching profession on the voluntary national University Selection Test (Prueba de Selección Universitaria, PSU) are increasing, there is a need for improvement. Teaching licensing and practicum are not mandatory to enter the profession. On average, lower secondary teachers’ pre-service training lasts five years, and including a teaching practicum is at the discretion of training institutions. Teaching conditions in primary and secondary institutions in Chile include teaching time and class size above the OECD average, and below-average salaries. A higher proportion of teachers in Chile than the TALIS average consider that the teaching profession is valued in society and would choose to work as teachers if they could decide again. Support for teachers includes clear standards, comprehensive evaluations intended for improvement and professional development opportunities. The recent creation of institutions to develop more systematic evaluation may c ontribute t o m onitoring s ch ool p ro cesses and g uiding school improvement.

System: In Chile, governance of the education system is shared between central and local authorities. The Ministry of Education sets the central framework and the policy agenda, providing schools with a high level of autonomy. Education is delivered by municipalities and by a high proportion of privately managed educational institutions that receive public subsidies. Expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP (for all education levels combined) is above the OECD average, with one of the highest funding shares from private sources among OECD countries. Chile also had one of the most significant increases in expenditure per student among OECD countries between 2005 and 2011 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels of education.

‌‌Selected indicators compared with the average

 ‌EPO SPIDER CHL                                                                                 Click here to access the underlying data
Note: For each indicator, the absolute performance is standardised (normalised) using a normative score ranging from 0 to 180, where 100 was set at the average, taking into account all OECD countries with available data in each case. See for maximum and minimum value countries. Source: The Chile Snapshot was produced combining information from Education Policy Outlook: Australia, (OECD, 2013) with OECD data and the country’s response to the Education Policy Outlook Snapshot Survey (2013). More information on the spider chart and sources is available at

‌‌Key issues and goals

Students: Within a context of significant improvements, delivering equity and quality in education remains a challenge in comparison to other OECD countries. Public funding and quality assurance of tertiary education institutions also remain key issues to ensure efficiency and equity. The challenge extends to aligning skills of young people with the needs of the labour market to ensure social progress.

Institutions: Chilean schools require strong school leaders and support to implement and drive school improvement, along with continued support to improve teaching conditions. The evaluation and assessment framework can be further consolidated for greater coherence.

System: Chile aims to provide local authorities and institutions with the capacity to deliver quality provision within a national vision and to ensure efficiency and equity of public funding in education.


‌‌Selected policy responses

  • A financial incentive, the Law on Preferential Subsidies (Ley de Subvención Escolar Preferencial, 2008) was introduced to strengthen performance and support disadvantaged students. It provides additional funding and support for schools that serve students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, from pre-primary through secondary education. In tertiary education, a more comprehensive scholarship programme pays full tuition expenses for high-performing disadvantaged students, and low interest rates have been set for student loans.
  • A new accountability system brings together the Ministry of Education, the National Education Council and a newly created Quality of Education Agency (Agencia de Calidad de la Educación, 2012), which is in charge of co-ordinating national assessments for schools and students, monitoring national system performance and providing information to stakeholders on performance. The Education Superintendence (Superintendencia de Educación Escolar) also initiated inspections in 2012 to ensure that schools meet legal standards.
  • A reform of the school leadership role as part of the Law of Quality and Equity in Education (Ley de Calidad y Equidad de la Educación, 2011) requires competitive and open selection processes, offers higher salaries and more assistance for professional development, and grants more flexibility in firing teachers.
  • Modifications made in 2012 to the laws regulating financial aid to students at the tertiary level added a subsidy to private student loans (Crédito con Aval del Estado, CAE) so that effective real interest rates of student loans are capped at 2% and loans are income contingent. The Scholarship for Tertiary Education (Becas de Educación Superior) programme expanded previous scholarship programmes to cover all students with satisfactory educational performance belonging to the lowest 60% of household income distribution. 

Spotlight: Raising standards for teachers and school leaders

Chile has developed a national framework defining standards for the teaching and school leadership profession to provide clarity on expectations for the profession and to guide teacher training, recruitment and evaluation in a decentralised environment.
The Good Teaching Framework (Marco para la Buena Enseñanza, 2008) provides a clear and concise profile of what teachers are expected to know and be able to do. It identifies four domains: preparation for teaching, creation of an environment favouring the learning process, teaching that allows the learning process of all students, and professional responsibilities. Within each domain, it describes criteria and performance levels (outstanding, competent, basic or unsatisfactory).

The Good School Leadership Framework (Marco para la Buena Dirección, 2005) provides both a description of the skills and competencies needed for good school leadership in Chilean schools and a reference for professional development of school leaders. It covers four areas: leadership; curricular management; management of the school environment and coexistence; and resource management. Each of these areas includes a set of criteria on which to focus professional development.

Please cite this publication as:
OECD (2015), Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen, OECD Publishing.
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