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Education at a Glance 2004 - Home


Education at a Glance 2009: OECD Indicators is now available


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The 2004 edition of the publication Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators enables countries to see themselves in the light of other countries' performance. It provides a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators on the performance of education systems that represent the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally. The focus of this edition of Education at a Glance is on the quality of learning outcomes, the policy levers and contextual factors that shape these outcomes, and the broader private and social returns that accrue to investments in education. For the first time, the publication also provides indicators on how the labour market returns to education have evolved over time as education systems have expanded. The picture is not limited to aggregate country performance, but also incorporates variations within countries. This allows for an examination of issues of equity in the provision and outcomes of education, on dimensions such as gender, age, socio-economic background, type of institution, or field of education. The thematic organisation of the volume and the background information accompanying the tables and charts make this publication a valuable resource for anyone interested in analysing education systems across countries.

Education at a Glance 2004 - Summary of Chapters

Chapter A

Chapter A begins by presenting the overall educational attainment of the population, then by examining graduation rates at the upper secondary and tertiary levels of education. To gauge progress in educational output, current graduation rates are compared to the educational attainment of older persons who left the education system at different points in time. Chapter A also goes beyond a count of graduates in each system to examine the quality of learning outcomes. Looking at reading literacy skills of both 9 and 15 year-olds, as well as gender differences in performance, attitudes, and learning strategies. Students’ sense of belonging and learning practices are also examined. Finally, the chapter presents the returns to investments in education for individuals and the society.

Chapter B

Chapter B provides a comparative examination of spending patterns in OECD countries. By giving more emphasis to trends in spending patterns, Education at a Glance 2004 analyses how different demand and supply factors interact and how spending on education, compared to spending on other social priorities, has changed.

Chapter C

Chapter C sketches a comparative picture of access, participation and progression in education and beyond education across OECD countries. Education is seen as a mechanism for instilling civic values, and as a means for developing individuals' productive and social capacity. Early childhood programmes prepare young children socially and academically for primary education. Primary and secondary education provides basic skills that serve as a foundation for young people to become productive members of society. Tertiary education provides opportunities for acquiring advanced knowledge and skills, either immediately after initial schooling or later on as well as being the focus of the increase in international mobility of students. Patterns of transition from education to work and their changes are further elaborated by trend analysis.

Chapter D

Chapter D concludes the publication with an examination of factors which shape the teaching and learning environment in schools and the wider educational systems and which can therefore have an influence on learning outcomes. The chapter begins by considering student learning conditions in terms of the amount of instruction time received (in total and in specific subjects) and the average class sizes, as well as the policies that apply for admitting and grouping students in schools. Next, teacher working conditions are considered in terms of teachers teaching and working time and also in terms of teacher salaries. Finally, the focus turns to the decision making structures within which schools operate and, for instance, reveals the degree to which schools have autonomy in making decisions on key issues which impact on student learning.


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