Education and Training Policy

1990-1496 (online)
1990-150X (print)
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Presents a series of books on various aspects of education and training policy in OECD countries.
Also available in French
No More Failures

No More Failures

Ten Steps to Equity in Education You do not have access to this content

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Simon Field, Malgorzata Kuczera, Beatriz Pont
14 Nov 2007
9789264032606 (PDF) ;9789264032590(print)

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No More Failures challenges the assumption that there will always be failures and dropouts, those who can’t or won’t make it in school. In fact, initiatives in many countries demonstrate that it is possible to successfully tackle school failure and dropout rates – and to reduce the huge social cost of adults without basic skills. This book offers a valuable comparative perspective on how different countries have handled equity in education. Among the issues it explores are tracking, streaming and academic selection;  school choice; secondary education structures and second chance programmes; grade repetition; links between school and home; early childhood education; resource allocation; targets for equity; and the special needs of migrants and minorities. The book identifies three key areas for delivering equity in education (the design of education systems, classroom practices and resourcing) and proposes ten concrete policy measures, backed by evidence, on how to reduce school failure and dropout rates.
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  • The Ten Steps – Executive Summary
    This report argues that education systems need to be fair and inclusive in their design, practices, and resourcing. It advances ten steps – major policy recommendations – which would reduce school failure and dropout, make society fairer and avoid the large social costs of marginalised adults with few basic skills.
  • Introduction: Setting the Agenda
    This chapter introduces the issue of equity in education and describes the methods of this study and the scope of this report. It addresses issues such as equity in compulsory education, early school leaving and the impact of different education pathways on equity, and argues that although these are very common problems, they can be, and have been, successfully tackled. The chapter refers to the philosophical discussion on equity and offers a simple definition of two main dimensions of equity in education: fairness (that social background should be no barrier to outcomes) and inclusion (a basic minimum standard of education for all). It then looks at the broader public policy context within which equity objectives are pursued and the evidence of trends in inequalities of income. The final section argues that equity in education is a fundamental policy objective.
  • A Look at Inequities in Education
    This chapter summarises selected quantitative evidence of equity in education and lays the groundwork for the policy chapters that follow. It starts by looking at the historical expansion of education and whether it has helped equity, noting the gains by women and the more disappointing evidence on other fronts. It then examines how inequalities change and develop over the lifecycle, the different phases of education and the position of vulnerable groups including migrants and dropouts. Expanding on the previous chapter, it explores how fairness and inclusion are intertwined, as it is often the disadvantaged who are underperforming, and how inequities may be perpetuated by features of the education system.
  • Structures and Pathways
    This chapter looks at the design of education systems – how they are put together and the routes through them – to analyse their impact on equity. It examines selection and choice in basic education, the different pathways in secondary and post-secondary education and explores evidence on how conducive these features may be to equity. Wherever these processes direct students to separate pathways (a process known as differentiation) and students in the separated pathways have different experiences, initial inequalities may be lessened or increased. The chapter argues that selection and choice create risks for equity which have to be managed, for example by using random lotteries rather than academic selection to choose successful applicants for schools in high demand. In addition, attractive secondary education structures and pathways without dead ends contribute to equity, as do effective systems of second chance education for those who did not finish when young.
  • School and Out-of-school Practices
    This chapter looks at classroom practices that affect equity along with out-of-school practices, particularly relationships between schools, parents and communities. Among different approaches, we highlight the need to reduce grade repetition in some countries, to develop approaches designed for the individual learner (including mixed ability teaching), and effective intervention strategies to support underperforming students or classrooms. Schools also need to reach out to homes of disadvantaged children, using strategies such as homework clubs and improved communication with parents to improve the out-of-school learning environment.
  • Resources and Outcomes
    This chapter looks at the way in which resources are distributed in educational systems and how outcome measures are used to direct the system; both have profound implications for equity. It examines the vertical allocation of resources between different educational levels, and argues that early childhood education and care and basic education are equity priorities. It looks at horizontal allocation across institutions and regions, explores the merits of different approaches to targeting resources for schools and individuals who need additional help, and examines ways of compensating for regional inequalities. The chapter then examines two key ways in which outcome measures can be used for policy purposes. It examines the use of numerically defined policy targets for equity, discussing their potential pitfalls as well as their merits. It also explores the issue of schools testing, its implications for equity, pros and cons of publication at school level and support measures necessary for schools identified as underperforming.
  • Groups at Risk
    This chapter concentrates on the difficult educational pathways of migrants and minorities. These pathways often reflect how the two dimensions of equity overlap: many immigrant groups tend to have lower performance compounded by low socio-economic background. Approaches to overcoming these hurdles include strengthening early childhood education and care for these groups, avoiding streaming immigrants into special education, improving language training and strengthening teacher professional development to deal with multiculturalism. Measures to reduce discrimination in the labour market can also increase incentives for immigrants to obtain a good education.
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