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Education Indicators in Focus

Education Indicators in Focus is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners. They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

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How Does Class Size Vary Around the World?

  • In OECD countries, the average class size at the lower secondary level is 23 students, but there are significant differences between countries, ranging from over 32 in Japan and Korea to 19 or below in Estonia, Iceland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
  • Class size, together with students’ instruction time, teachers’ teaching time and teachers’ salaries, is one of the key variables that policy makers can use to control spending on education. Between 2000 and 2009, many countries invested additional resources to decrease class size; however, student performance has improved in only a few of them.
  • Reducing class size is not, on its own, a sufficient policy lever to improve the performance of education systems, and is a less efficient measure than increasing the quality of teaching.

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