April 2014

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OECD Education and Skills Newsletter
Bringing you the highlights from the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Spotlight on

This issue of our newsletter brings to you the key education findings and policy directions emerging from recent OECD analysis in a single accessible free source.

Creative problem solving amongst 15-year-olds
What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know

In modern societies, all of life is problem solving. On average across OECD countries, about one in five students is able to solve only straightforward problems provided that they refer to familiar situations. Complex problem-solving skills are in demand in fast-growing, highly skilled managerial, professional and technical occupations.

Are today’s 15-year-olds acquiring the problem-solving skills needed in the 21st century? Volume V of the 2012 PISA survey reports the results from its assessment of problem solving, which was administered, on computer, to about 85 000 students in 44 countries and economies.

News roundup

Directorate for Education and Skills
Barbara Ischinger has retired from the Organisation on 31 March 2014, having held the position of Director for Education and Skills for almost 8 years and will take up a new role as a member of the Board of Directors at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. Andreas Schleicher has been appointed Acting Director. Andreas, a German national, joined the Organisation as an official in 1994, and has held the position of Deputy Director of the Education and Skills Directorate (EDU) since 2012 and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General since 2010.

International Summit on the Teaching Profession
The fourth summit jointly organised by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the OECD and Education International, brought together education ministers and leaders of national teachers’ federations and teachers’ unions in Wellington, New Zealand on 28-29 March, to discuss “Excellence, Equity and Inclusiveness – High quality teaching for all”.

Skills for Social Progress
A High Level Policy Forum jointly hosted by the Ministry of Education of Brazil, OECD and Instituto Ayrton Senna, was held on 24-25 March in São Paulo, Brazil. The Forum brought together education leaders from around the world, to discuss ways to better prepare our children to face the diverse socioeconomic challenges of the 21st Century.

Thomas J. Alexander Fellowship
The OECD has named four researchers as Thomas J. Alexander Fellows: Tommaso Agasisti of Italy; Daniel Caro of Peru; Seong Won Han of Korea; Darleen Opfer of the United States; and Henry Braun of the United States. The fellowship programme aims to develop and support improvements in education quality and equity, particularly in emerging economies.

Skills beyond Schools
In December 2013, two new Skills beyond School Commentaries were published on Scotland and Belgium Flanders. Additionally, in January 2014 two more commentaries were published on Romania and Northern Ireland. These commentaries summarise the strengths and challenges in the respective country systems.

Education Policy Outlook: Country Profiles
Following the publication of the Country profiles for Chile, Finland, Mexico, Norway and Turkey, we will be publishing 4 more in April 2014 for Denmark, France, Germany and Spain. An analysis of common challenges, policy lessons learnt and reflections on how to make reform happen in education.

Designing Skill-Friendly Tax Policies
Published as part of the OECD Skills Strategy Spotlight Series, Spotlight Number 6 outlines some of the ways in which taxation can affect skills development decisions, with a particular focus on skills policies targeted at third-level and adult education.

Trends Shaping Education Spotlight
The growing rate of obesity is one of the most significant health trends in OECD countries and increasingly, in Brazil, Russia, India and China, the “BRIC” countries. This health trend is also strongly linked to lower educational attainment – both as a cause and as an effect.

Lessons from PISA for Korea
Korea is one of the top performing countries in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey and is continuously exploring ways to improve its education system. This report helps Korea to identify and address education policy challenges in an international perspective as well as being a useful reference for other countries seeking to improve their education systems.

Just Published
PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving. Students' Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems
The fifth volume in the set of results of the 2012 PISA survey has just been published presenting student performance in the assessment of problem solving, by measuring students' capacity to respond to non-routine situations in order to achieve their potential as constructive and reflective citizens.
Reviews of National Policies for Education Kazakhstan
This report evaluates the education reform agenda of Kazakhstan – its feasibility and focus – by taking stock of present-day strengths and weaknesses of the secondary education system. Chapter 1 of the report provides an overview of the country.
Forthcoming Events

5-6 May 2014
OECD Forum 2014.
13 - 15 May 2014
Workshops on learning to use the international PIAAC database.
25 June 2014
Launch of OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 results.
09 September, 2014
Launch of Education at a Glance (EAG) 2014.

Policy Papers

PISA in Focus
• Are 15-year-olds good at solving problems?
• Do students have the drive to succeed?
• Do parents’ occupations have an impact on student performance?
• Who are the school truants?

Education Indicators in Focus
• How old are the teachers?
• What are tertiary students choosing to study?
• What is the impact of the economic crisis on public education spending?

PISA creative problem solving: data visualisation

• OECD Education GPS
• PISA International Database
• Education at a Glance raw data

Global perspectives on Education

Expanding PISA’s circle of influence, by Barbara Ischinger, Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Expanding PISA’s circle of influence (Part Two), by Barbara Ischinger, Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

What’s at the root of women’s absence in STEM occupations?, by Marilyn Achiron, Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills

Inclusive educational innovations in India, by Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, Senior Analyst, and Alfonso Echazarra, Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Top tweets @OECD Edu
How is the teaching profession viewed in your country? Interviews from ISTP 2013 click here
Be part of the change in education | Learn more about #GESF @SchleicherEdu click here
More than 1/3 of male primary school #teachers in OECD countries are now over 50 years old | New @EAG_Indicators click here
Which language group in PISA test are boys more anxious about maths problems? try #IWD quiz by #OECDInsights click here
To those of you who have diplomas: The chance of losing your job is much lower than if you don’t have one - SG Gurria click here
The Global Search for Education: The World Test? | Huffington Post #OECDPISA via @cmrubinworld click here
Alliance for Excellent Education: PISA 2012 Special report on Creative Problem Solving

Watch short video of Andreas Schleicher discussing equity in education at the 2014 Teacher Summit
Working Papers

Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC, by Eric A Hanushek, Guido Schwerdt, Simon Wiederhold, and Ludger Woessmann

Promoting Skills for Innovation in Higher Education: A Literature Review on the Effectiveness of Problem-based Learning and of Teaching Behaviours, by Sabine Hoidn and Kiira Kärkkäinen

Learning Standards, Teaching Standards and Standards for School Principals: A Comparative Study, by Centre of Study for Policies and Practices in Education (CEPPE), Chile

Coping with Very Weak Primary Schools: Towards Smart Interventions in Dutch Education Policy, by Mark van Twist, Martijn van der Steen, Marieke Kleiboer, Jorren Scherpenisse and Henno Theisens

Balancing Trust and Accountability? The Assessment for Learning Programme in Norway: A Governing Complex Education Systems Case Study, by Therese Hopfenbeck, Astrid Tolo, Teresa Florez and Yasmine El Masri

The Simple, the Complicated, and the Complex: Educational Reform Through the Lens of Complexity Theory, by Sean Snyder

Schooling Matters: Opportunity to Learn in PISA 2012, by William H. Schmidt, Pablo Zoido and Leland Cogan

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