Education at a Glance

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

1999-1487 (online)
1563-051X (print)
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OECD's annual Education at a Glance looks at who participates in education, what is spent on it, how education systems operate and the results achieved. The latter includes indicators on a wide range of outcomes, from comparisons of students’ performance in key subject areas to the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment. This book includes StatLinks, urls linking to Excel® spreadsheets containing the background data.

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Education at a Glance 2009

Education at a Glance 2009

OECD Indicators You or your institution have access to this content

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08 Sep 2009
9789264024762 (PDF) ;9789264024755(print)

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The 2009 edition of 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 and represents the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally.

The indicators look at who participates in education, what is spent on it and how education systems operate and at the results achieved. The latter includes indicators on a wide range of outcomes, from comparisons of students’ performance in key subject areas to the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment. New material in this edition includes first results from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) on teacher practices as well as teacher appraisal and feedback; an analysis of the social benefits of education; information on long-term unemployment and involuntary part-time work among young adults; a review of trends in attainment; data on the incentives to invest in education which show the benefits of education in dollar amount across OECD countries; and a picture of excellence in education for 15-year-olds, based on findings from the PISA study.

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  • Foreword
  • Investing and Innovating in Education for Recovery
    This year’s edition of Education at a Glance is published at a time when all eyes are focused on the financial crisis and its economic and social fallout. Presenting data up to 2007, this edition cannot yet assess the impact of the crisis on education systems, but it does provide indicators that inform the debate about how investments in human capital can contribute to economic recovery.
  • Introduction
    Education at a Glance – OECD Indicators 2009 provides a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators that reflect a consensus among professionals on how to measure the current state of education internationally. The indicators provide information on the human and financial resources invested in education, on how education and learning systems operate and evolve, and on the returns to educational investments. The indicators are organised thematically, and each is accompanied by information on the policy context and the interpretation of the data. The education indicators are presented within an organising framework that:
  • Reader's Guide
    Although a lack of data still limits the scope of the indicators in many countries, the coverage extends, in principle, to the entire national education system (within the national territory) regardless of the ownership or sponsorship of the institutions concerned and regardless of education delivery mechanisms. With one exception described below, all types of students and all age groups are meant to be included: children (including students with special needs), adults, nationals, foreigners, as well as students in open distance learning, in special education programmes or in educational programmes organised by ministries other than the Ministry of Education, provided the main aim of the programme is the educational development of the individual. However, vocational and technical training in the workplace, with the exception of combined school and work-based programmes that are explicitly deemed to be parts of the education system, is not included in the basic education expenditure and enrolment data.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Output of Educational Institutions and the Impact of Learning

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    • To what level have adults studied?
      This indicator profiles the educational attainment of the adult population as captured through formal educational qualifications. As such, it provides a proxy for the knowledge and skills available to national economies and societies. To gauge the evolution of available skills, trend data on growth in the number of people with different levels of educational attainment have been added this year. This indicator also provides data related to the supply of and demand for skilled workers across OECD countries.
    • How many students finish secondary education and access tertiary education?
      This indicator shows the current upper secondary graduate output of education systems, i.e. the percentage of the typical population of upper secondary school age that follows and successfully completes upper secondary programmes. It also shows the percentage of the youth cohort that will enter different types of tertiary education during their lifetime and the impact of international/foreign students.
    • How many students finish tertiary education ?
      Tertiary education covers a wide range of programmes and serves overall as an indicator of countries’ production of advanced skills. A traditional university degree is associated with completion of tertiary-type A courses; tertiary-type B generally refers to shorter and often vocationally oriented courses. This indicator first shows the current tertiary graduate output of education systems, i.e. the percentage of the population in the typical age cohort for tertiary education that successfully completes tertiary programmes, as well as the evolution of the sector since 1995. Finally, this indicator shows current tertiary completion rates in education systems, i.e. the percentage of students who follow and successfully complete tertiary programmes. Although "dropping out" is not necessarily an indicator of failure from the individual student’s perspective, high dropout rates may indicate that the education system is not meeting students’ needs.
    • What is the profile of 15-year-old top performers in science?
      The rapidly growing demand for highly skilled workers has led to a global competition for talent. High-level skills are critical for the creation of new knowledge, technologies and innovation and therefore an important determinant of economic growth and social development. Drawing on data from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), this indicator takes an in-depth look at top-performing students in science.
    • What are the top performers' attitudes and motivations for science in PISA 2006?
      Students’ attitudes and motivations tend to be closely associated with their performance, as shown in previous analysis by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Fostering interest and motivation in science, as well as preparing and informing students about science-related careers, are thus important policy goals related to conveying scientific knowledge and competencies to students, engaging them in science-related issues and fostering their career aspirations in science. This indicator shows how top performers in science tend to be dedicated and engaged learners who aspire to a career in science and feel well informed about potential career opportunities in science. At the same time, in a number of countries there are significant proportions of top performers who show comparatively low levels of interest in science.
    • How does participation in education affect participation in the labour market
      This indicator examines the relationship between educational attainment and labour force status for both males and females. Together, information on employment and unemployment provides a complete picture of labour market participation. Similarly, trend data show changes in labour force status over time, as well as the variation in employment and unemployment risks among groups with different levels of educational attainment.
    • What are the economic benefits of education
      This indicator examines the relative earnings of workers with different levels of educational attainment in 25 OECD countries and the partner countries Brazil, Israel and Slovenia. Differences in pre-tax earnings between educational groups provide a good indication of supply and demand for education. Combined with data on earnings over time, these differences provide a strong signal of whether education systems are aligned with labour market demands.
    • What are the incentives to invest in education?
      This indicator examines incentives to invest in education by estimating the value of education across 21 OECD countries. The financial returns to education are calculated for investments undertaken as a part of initial education, and account for the main costs and benefits associated with this investment decision. The discounted values of private and public investments in education are given for upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary and tertiary education.
    • What are the social outcomes of education?
      This new indicator examines the relationship between educational attainment and social measures of well-being (i.e. social outcomes) for 21 OECD countries. It focuses on three outcomes that reflect the health and cohesiveness of society: selfassessed health, political interest and interpersonal trust. It looks at how these outcomes vary across levels of educational attainment, with and without adjustments made for individual differences in gender, age and income. It also describes how social outcomes vary across gender, age and income groups, and whether these differences change by levels of educational attainment.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Financial and Human Resources Invested In Education

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    • How much is spent per student?
      This indicator provides an assessment of the investment in each student. Expenditure on educational institutions per student is largely influenced by teachers’ salaries (see Indicators B6 and D3), pension systems, instructional and teaching hours (see Indicators B7, D1 and D4), the cost of teaching materials and facilities, the programme orientation provided to pupils/students (e.g. general or vocational) and the number of students enrolled in the education system (see Indicator C1). Policies to attract new teachers or to reduce average class size or change staffing patterns (see Indicator D2) have also contributed to changes in the expenditure on educational institutions per student over time.
    • What proportion of national wealth is spent on education?
      Expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP shows how a country prioritises education in relation to its overall allocation of resources. Tuition fees and investment in education from private entities other than households (see Indicator B5) have a strong impact on differences in the overall amount of financial resources that OECD and partner countries devote to their education systems, especially at the tertiary level.
    • How much public and private investment is there in education?
      This indicator examines the proportion of public and private funding allocated to educational institutions at each level. It also breaks down private funding by households and expenditures by private entities other than households. It sheds some light on the widely debated issue of how the financing of educational institutions should be shared between public and private entities, particularly at the tertiary level.
    • What is the total public spending on education?
      Public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure indicates the value placed on education relative to other public areas of investment, such as health care, social security, defence and security. It provides an important context for the other indicators on education expenditure, particularly for Indicator B3 (the public and private shares of educational expenditure) and is the quantification of an important policy lever in its own right.
    • How much do tertiary students pay and what public subsidies do they receive?
      This indicator examines the relationships between annual tuition fees charged by institutions, direct and indirect public spending on educational institutions, and public subsidies to households for student living costs. It looks at whether financial subsidies for households are provided in the form of grants or loans and raises related questions: Are scholarships/grants and loans more common in countries with higher tuition fees charged by institutions? Are loans an effective means for helping to increase the efficiency of financial resources invested in education and to shift some of the cost of education to the beneficiaries of educational investment? Are student loans less common than grants as a means of encouraging low-income students to pursue their education?
    • On what resources and services is education funding spent?
      This indicator compares OECD countries with respect to the division of spending between current and capital expenditure and the distribution of current expenditure. It is affected by teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3), pension systems, the age distribution of teachers, the size of the non-teaching staff employed in education (see Indicator D2) and the degree to which expanded enrolments require the construction of new buildings. It also compares how OECD countries’ spending is distributed among these different functions of educational institutions.
    • Which factors influence the level of expenditure?
      This indicator examines the policy choices countries make when investing their resources in primary and secondary education, such as trade-offs between the hours that students spend in the classroom, the number of teaching hours of teachers, class sizes (proxy measure) and teachers’ salaries. In the first stage, the differences in the combination of factors that influence the salary cost per student are analysed separately at primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels of education. In the second stage, the differences in salary cost per student between these levels of education are compared.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Access to Education, Participation and Progression

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    • Who participates in education?
      This indicator examines access to education and its evolution using information on enrolment rates and trends from 1995 to 2007. It also shows patterns of participation at the secondary and tertiary levels of education, and the comparative roles played by public and private providers of education across OECD and partner countries.
    • Who studies abroad and where?
      This indicator provides a picture of student mobility and of the internationalisation of tertiary education in OECD and partner countries. It shows global trends and highlights the main destinations of international students and trends in market shares of the international student pool. Some of the factors underlying students’ choices of country in which to study are also examined. This indicator shows the extent of student mobility to different destinations and presents international student intake in terms of distribution by countries and regions of origin, types of programmes, and fields of study. The distribution of students enrolled outside of their country of citizenship by destination is also examined, along with the immigration implications for host countries. The proportion of international students in tertiary enrolments provides a good indication of the magnitude of student mobility in different countries.
    • How successful are students in moving from education to work?
      This indicator shows the number of years that young adults are expected to spend in education, employment and non-employment, and notes their status by gender. Once students have completed their initial education, they may face periods of unemployment, non-employment, or involuntary part-time work. The indicator also tracks the length of unemployment spells and the proportion of young adults in part-time work.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Learning Environment and Organisation of Schools

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    • How much time do students spend in the classroom?
      This indicator examines the amount of instruction time students are expected to receive between the ages of 7 and 15. It also discusses how instruction time is allocated to different curriculum areas.
    • What is the student-teacher ratio and how big are classes?
      This indicator examines the number of students per class at the primary and lower secondary levels, the ratio of students to teaching staff at all levels, including a breakdown by type of institutions, and the breakdown of educational personnel between teaching and non-teaching staff. Class size and student-teacher ratios are much discussed aspects of the education students receive and – along with students’ total instruction time (see Indicator D1), teachers’ average working time (see Indicator D4) and the division of teachers’ time between teaching and other duties – are among the determinants of the size of countries’ teaching force.
    • How much are teachers paid?
      This indicator shows the starting, mid-career and maximum statutory salaries of teachers in public primary and secondary education, and various additional payments and incentive schemes used to reward teachers. Together with teachers’ working and teaching time (see Indicator D4), this indicator presents some key measures of teachers’ working lives. Differences in teachers’ salaries, along with other factors such as student-to-staff ratios (see Indicator D2), provide some explanation of the differences in expenditure per student (see Indicators B1 and B7).
    • How much time do teachers spend teaching?
      This indicator focuses on the statutory working time and statutory teaching time of teachers at different levels of education. Although working time and teaching time only partly determine teachers’ actual workload, they do give valuable insight into differences in what is demanded of teachers in different countries. Together with teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3) and average class size (see Indicator D2), this indicator presents some key measures of the working lives of teachers.
    • How much appraisal and feedback do teachers receive, and what is the impact?
      This indicator focuses on the appraisal and feedback that teachers receive and the impact that this has on schools and teachers at the lower secondary level of education. Evaluation can play a key role in school improvement and teacher development (OECD, 2008c). Providing feedback can help teachers to better understand their respective strengths and weaknesses which, in turn, can be an important first step towards the improvement of classroom practices. Identifying such strengths and weaknesses, informing resource allocation decisions, and motivating actors to improve performance are important features that can promote policy objectives such as school improvement, school accountability, and school choice. Data were collected from both school principals and teachers in TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey) on these and related issues such as the recognition and rewards that teachers receive. Analysis of this data has produced a number of important findings for all stakeholders in school education.
    • How do teacher practices, beliefs and attitudes measure up?
      This indicator focuses on teacher practices, beliefs, and attitudes. They are closely linked to teachers’ strategies for coping with challenges in their daily professional life and to their general well-being. They also shape the learning environment and influence student motivation and achievement. Furthermore they can be expected to mediate the effects of job-related policies – such as changes in curricula for teachers’ initial education or professional development – on student learning. Data were collected from teachers in TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey) on teacher practices, beliefs and attitudes, and related issues such as classroom management practices, teacher professional activities, and job satisfaction. Analysis of this data has produced a number of important findings.
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  • Annexes
  • References
  • Contributors to this Publication
    Many people have contributed to the development of this publication. The following lists the names of the country representatives, researchers and experts who have actively taken part in the preparatory work leading to the publication of Education at a Glance – OECD Indicators 2009. The OECD wishes to thank them all for their valuable efforts.
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