The highest performing education systems are those that combine equity with quality. They give all children opportunities for a good quality education. This report presents policy recommendations for education systems to help all children succeed in their schooling. It looks into system level and school level policies to promote equity and quality. It also provides evidence on how to support disadvantaged students and schools, as improving opportunities for them benefits education systems and societies as a whole.
Reducing school failure pays off for both society and individuals. It can also contribute to economic growth and social development. Indeed the highest performing education systems across OECD countries are those that combine quality with equity. Equity in education means that personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background, are not obstacles to achieving educational potential (fairness) and that that all individuals reach at least a basic minimum level of skills (inclusion). In these education systems, the vast majority of students have the opportunity to attain high level skills, regardless of their own personal and socio-economic circumstances.
Investing in equity in education pays off
This chapter focuses on why improving equity in education and preventing school failure is cost-beneficial, even more in the context of the current economic crisis. Inequitable education policies and practices have a negative impact on individuals and also limit economic and social development. Often, inequities hamper the educational achievement of specific population groups such as students from lower socio-economic backgrounds or migrant students, and the crisis may have worsened this situation.
Tackling system level policies that hinder equity in education
This chapter looks at how to eliminate system level obstacles to equity. Education systems and the pathways through them need to be designed in a way that both enhances equity and raises students’ success, yet a wide set of policies which hinder equity are still common in many OECD countries. This chapter focuses on how to redress the negative impact of five system level policies that hinder equity by proposing alternative policy approaches to improve equity and performance.
Improving low performing disadvantaged schools
This chapter looks at how to improve equity and reduce school failure at the school level. It focuses on low performing disadvantaged schools, to identify the best policy strategies to support their efforts in reducing school failure. It starts by analysing what are the specific challenges schools with high proportions of disadvantaged students face and the reason why they are at risk of low performance. Then, it presents five recommendations to improve the performance of these schools. While they apply to all schools, they are particularly relevant for low performing disadvantaged schools, where they may be harder to achieve but can deliver improvements: developing and supporting specialised school leadership; fostering a positive and supportive school environment; training, recruiting and retaining competent teachers; ensuring effective learning strategies; and finally linking parents and communities with these schools for sustainable improvement.
Review methodology and outputs
This report is the main output of the OECD thematic review Overcoming School Failure: Policies that Work. This review was designed to provide evidence on the policies that are effective to improve equity in education and reduce school failure, building on the previous OECD thematic review on Equity in Education and the report No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education (2007).
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