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Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Education Worldwide

The conversation about a global economy and global competition is not a new one. According to the latest reports by the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “In a global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer improvement by national standards alone, but the best performing school systems internationally.” On December 3, 2013, the results of The OECD’s latest PISA survey were released. PISA is unique because it develops tests that are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students, at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. The 2012 survey tested more than 510,000 students in 65 countries and economies on math, reading and science.

The results of the survey “show striking changes in the world’s talent.” Asian students outperformed the rest of the world. Shanghai, China and Singapore were top in maths, with students in Shanghai scoring the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most OECD countries. Hong Kong, China; Chinese Taipei; Korea; Macao, China; Japan; Liechtenstein; Switzerland and the Netherlands were also in the group of top-performing countries.

There were similarities leading to success. High-performing countries, school systems and students:

  • Consistently say that achievement is mainly a product of hard work, rather than inherited intelligence.
  • Embrace diversity among students with differentiated instructional practices.
  • Put a special emphasis on teacher selection processes, training, incentives and pathways for career growth, and the development of innovative approaches to teaching.
  • Deliver high quality across the entire school system, from the earliest years to the first steps in professional life.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría states, “In a global economy, competitiveness and future job prospects will depend on what people can do with what they know. Young people are the future, so every country must do everything it can to improve its education system and the prospects of future generations.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of College Planning & Management.

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