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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 much would it cost to reduce class size by one student?

Decreasing class sizes, even by as little as one student, comes with a price tag. It is possible to “pay” for this increase by compensating with one of the other factors influencing the salary cost of teachers: lower teachers’ salaries, less required instruction time for students or more teaching time for teachers. Across OECD countries there seems to be a trade-off between smaller class sizes and higher teachers’ salaries, thus prompting the question of which policy leads to the best student outcomes. The evidence points to the importance of ensuring high-quality teaching above all else. Although higher salaries can help achieve that, several other factors will also influence the quality of the teaching force and of the country’s educational system as whole.

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