copy the linklink copied!Chapter 1. Overview

Better decisions on education policy can help prepare future generations for the way the world is changing and the challenges facing societies today. This chapter begins by examining some of the global trends affecting education systems, exploring the opportunities and challenges that these trends bring and identifying overarching themes emerging from the analysis of the subsequent chapters of this report.

It then provides an overview of the key policy priorities and trends identified later in this report across OECD countries from 2008-19 within the areas of school improvement, evaluation and assessment, governance and funding. It also introduces readers to the main policy responses to the common challenges seen in those policy areas during the same period. As such, it prepares the ground for the more detailed analysis of policy priorities, responses and impact found in the body of this report.

    

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

copy the linklink copied!Highlights

  • Global trends require a reflection on how today’s education systems can help build the foundations for stronger, fairer and more prosperous future societies that are empowered to own their ability to bring positive change.

  • Four overarching themes emerge as guiding principles for education policy makers: building and restoring trust; addressing inequalities at all levels of the system; strengthening coherence within increasingly complex education systems; and harnessing digital technologies in a responsible manner.

  • The Education Policy Outlook provides evidence-informed guidance to support policy makers in designing and implementing policies that can help establish equitable, coherent and trusted education systems.

copy the linklink copied!Building the foundations for stronger, fairer and more prosperous societies

Today’s youngest children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) will leave compulsory schooling in 2035. Education systems are thus challenged to equip these children, and their older peers, with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in a world that policy makers can neither predict, nor fully understand. With this in mind, today’s focus should be on embedding a culture of coherence, equity and collaborative innovation at the heart of education systems. These efforts will help build stronger, fairer and more prosperous future societies that are empowered to own their ability to bring positive change.

The Education Policy Outlook supports education systems in this endeavour by conducting a comparative analysis of the evolution of policy priorities and policy trends across education systems, and examining the design and impact of policy responses. The Education Policy Outlook, an analytical observatory of education policy, thus identifies pathways to improvement that can be adopted by policy makers and adapted to their specific contexts. This work is intended to stimulate the whole-systems thinking required of education ecosystems and to encourage the collaborative synergies essential for building resilience among systems, institutions and students.

Quality education as an antidote to global fragmentation, mistrust and inequality

In May 2018, the OECD Economic Outlook 2018 estimated that the world economy, buoyed by an increase in world trade, global investment and job creation, had finally entered a high-growth phase following the 2007-08 economic crisis (OECD, 2018[1]). But despite this “sunny” outlook, dark clouds appear on the global horizon. Just a few months later, the Economic Outlook’s follow-up volume found both protectionism and political and social instability on the rise, and economic growth already stagnating (OECD, 2018[2]).

Today’s global society displays increasing signs of fragmentation. The international and transnational relationships formed by globalisation, along with growing autonomy for cities and sub-regions, trends towards decentralised governance and an increased presence of non-state actors in the policy-making environment are creating an unprecedented level of complexity in society. Yet with this complexity comes great opportunity as new voices are heard and new collaborative synergies are forged.

Within education specifically, the growing diversity of voice and the resulting increased demand for accountability can be harnessed to raise standards. The last decade has seen a rise in multi-level governance in education systems where interpretations of reality, expectations and preferred solutions differ (Frankowski et al., 2018[3]). At the same time, increasingly better-educated and more individualistic parents who have greater access to information are also more empowered to hold governments, schools and teachers to account (Burns, Köster and Fuster, 2016[4]). But too often, the links between these various actors and administrative levels are not clearly defined, and parents feel excluded from their children’s education. As such, mistrust may inhibit progress.

At the wider level, too, growing multiplicity and stakeholder voice exist against a backdrop of rapidly declining institutional and interpersonal trust. Citizens’ trust in government across many OECD countries is at an all-time low. On average, less than half of the citizens in OECD countries (42%) have confidence in their national governments, with some countries experiencing as much as a 20 percentage-point fall since 2007 (see Figure 1.1) (OECD, 2017[5]). Data from the World Values Survey show, too, that roughly half of the OECD countries sampled experienced a decline in interpersonal trust levels from 2005-14 in comparison to the levels from 1981-94 (OECD, 2017[6]). Interpersonal and institutional trust appear to be mutually dependent, and this general decline has important ramifications for social cohesion, political stability and social and economic progress (Murtin et al., 2018[7]).

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Figure 1.1. Confidence in national governments in 2016 and percentage-point change since 2007
Figure 1.1. Confidence in national governments in 2016 and percentage-point change since 2007

Notes:

1. Data on the confidence in national governments for Canada, Iceland and the United States in 2016 are based on a sample of around 500 citizens.

2. Data refer to the percentage who answered “yes” to the question, “Do you have confidence in national government?” The data are arranged in descending order according to the percentage-point change between 2007 and 2016.

3. Data for Austria, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Switzerland are for 2006 rather than 2007. Data for Iceland and Luxembourg are for 2008 rather than 2007.

Source: OECD (2017[5]), Government at a Glance 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2017-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997056

Education can play a crucial role in reversing this trend, and this starts by establishing a culture of trust within the education system itself. Trust and quality education go hand in hand: the higher a country ranks in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the more likely it is that policy makers work constructively with all stakeholders and treat the system’s actors as trusted professional partners (Schleicher, 2018[8]). Equally, a system that is competent in terms of operational capacity and responsiveness, and that has strong and clear guiding principles and values inspires trust among its stakeholders (OECD, 2017[9]). This helps lower transaction costs and mitigate the agency problem, thus encouraging effective policy implementation and curtailing reform fatigue (De Bliek, 2013[10]). Education has an important role to play at the individual level, too. Carefully designed curricula and pedagogy in the hands of effective teachers can help strengthen the cognitive, social and civic skills that students need to build trusting relationships with others.

Compounding both growing fragmentation and declining trust are rising inequalities. Largely a result of the recent financial crisis and subsequent slow recovery, as well as structural changes in labour markets fuelled by globalisation and digitalisation, income inequality has risen significantly in many OECD countries over the last 30 years (OECD, 2017[6]). At the extremes, income divergence between the top 10% and the bottom 10% is increasing year on year as low- and medium-wage growth lag behind high-wage growth (OECD, 2019[11]); (OECD, 2018[2]).

But the problem is not just economic: different kinds of inequalities converge to create an interlocking set of obstacles that make it difficult for upward mobility to occur. Low- and medium-wage workers are at greater risk of job substitutability due to the disproportionately negative impact of technological developments on those with lower skill levels. Yet, since 2006, inequality in students’ cognitive skills has increased in the OECD area, in some countries by more than ten percentage points (OECD, 2017[6]). There is also growing evidence of an emerging second-level digital divide where individuals with lower basic and digital skills benefit less from the digital tools they use (Graafland, 2018[12]). These inequalities have far-reaching consequences for society: they inhibit economic growth, fuel instability and intolerance and drive fragmentation by deepening social divides (OECD, 2017[6]).

Quality education is critical to counteracting growing inequality. High-performing education systems ensure that all students can achieve high skill levels, thus easing access to the labour market for all, and increasing both individual and societal resilience to structural change. In addition, by making systems more equitable, education policy makers create the conditions for students of all backgrounds to enter higher levels of education. The premiums enjoyed by tertiary graduates over their peers educated to secondary and primary level are far reaching. Graduates of tertiary education feel more engaged in their community and wider society, are more likely to view themselves as empowered citizens and report higher levels of institutional and interpersonal trust, for example. The education advantage appears particularly impactful in relation to more introspective measures such as life satisfaction and sense of personal security (see Figure 1.2) (OECD, 2017[6]). Raising levels of educational attainment can therefore have a wide positive impact that will endure for future generations: on average across the OECD, respondents with at least one parent who has obtained a tertiary degree report a level of political efficacy that is consistently above those without a tertiary-educated parent (Borgonovi and Pokropek, 2017[13]).

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Figure 1.2. Social outcomes relative to level of educational attainment, 2017
Figure 1.2. Social outcomes relative to level of educational attainment, 2017

Source: OECD (2017), How's Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/how_life-2017-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997075

Education can help prepare people to act critically and responsibly in new digital landscapes

Over the last decade, the number of Internet users across OECD countries reading or downloading online news has increased, on average, by about 40%. By 2017, 65% of Internet users consumed online news (OECD, 2019[11]). Online readers generally access news items via search engines and social media channels, particularly Facebook and its affiliates. There appears to be a strong correlation between the frequency of social media use and false news consumption. Articles bearing falsehoods or highly affective content diffuse more quickly, deeply and broadly, facilitating a polarisation of opinions (Martens et al., 2018[14]). Young people, as both the predominant social media users and the consumers who are most reliant on online news, are doubly vulnerable.

Quality education, therefore, becomes crucial in developing critical digital citizens and can help combat the damaging effects of online (fake) news consumption on democratic processes. At a more personal level, quality education can help individuals navigate information in their everyday lives. The shift in media consumption from direct access to content, to algorithm-driven access, has largely erased the editor’s role in curation and quality assurance, forcing the reader to take up this task. Education systems can equip students with higher-order cognitive skills and advanced media and digital literacy, valuable tools when distinguishing between fake and real news. Societies rich in these skills are therefore less vulnerable to the spread of fake news (Martens et al., 2018[14]). Furthermore, with a growing number of social interactions occurring digitally, technology is more personal than ever. By working to foster digital citizenship, education can help positively shape the kind of interactions played out in these new digital spaces.

In addition, the accelerated diffusion of digitalised processes across public and private life raises questions about security and privacy. Across the world, digital security is of growing concern as massive breaches of data privacy become increasingly common (see Figure 1.3).

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Figure 1.3. World’s biggest data breaches by method of leak, 2004-18
Billions of records lost
Figure 1.3. World’s biggest data breaches by method of leak, 2004-18

Notes: Selected losses greater than 30 000 records; data compiled from DataBreaches.net, IdTheftCentre, and press reports. “Inside job” refers to authorised individuals (such as employees) intentionally releasing data in unauthorised ways.

Source: OECD (2019[11]), Trends Shaping Education 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/trends_edu-2019-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997094

Education systems must respond proactively to this challenge. Data collection and management are critical elements of effective and efficient school systems and have come to form the backbone of policy reform, impact monitoring and evaluation. The collection, input, analysis and use of data is now a collective endeavour that involves actors at all levels and informs decisions across systems (Subosa and West, 2018[15]). At the same time, growing amounts of data can be collected, especially as students increasingly work via digital media. Education policy makers, therefore, need to be proactive in establishing legal and ethical frameworks that effectively define and regulate the use of educational data and in employing transparency mechanisms that find the right balance between democratising access and protecting privacy. Ongoing capacity building is also required to enable teachers and school leaders to collect and input data in a responsible and secure manner.

Four guiding principles for education policy makers

In view of these global trends and the analysis of education policy priorities and trends among participating education systems conducted for this report, four overarching messages emerge. They build on the work carried out for the Education Policy Outlook 2018: Putting Student Learning at the Centre, which looked at how education systems can bring together the different worlds of a student to improve learning outcomes.

The four key messages of this edition of the Education Policy Outlook serve as guiding principles for education policy makers:

  1. 1. Building and restoring trust. To successfully navigate unpredictable and unstable futures, education systems need to establish collaborative synergies across their different levels.

    • Chapter 2 offers insights into how policy decisions can better value the professionals operating within a system, offering quality professional development opportunities and making long-term careers more attractive.

    • Chapter 3 explores approaches to the design and implementation of evaluation and assessment mechanisms that foster accountability systems built to promote transparency, collaborative support and improved performance.

    • Chapter 4 explicitly considers the growing demand placed on education systems to develop a shared vision that can unite actors and actions within decentralising contexts. It also explores approaches to engaging stakeholders in policy processes.

    • Chapter 6 spotlights ongoing collaboration between the OECD and selected education systems (Norway and Wales [United Kingdom]) to implement specific education policies.

    • Chapter 7, prepared by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, looks into the evolution of perceptions of unions in the collaboration between teachers and governments.

  2. 2. Addressing inequality at all levels of the system. To ensure that all students can attain high-level skills, equity must be a priority in every aspect of an education ecosystem.

    • Chapter 2 focuses on improving learning conditions for all students by creating inclusive learning environments, suggesting how equity can be a priority at the school level.

    • Chapter 5 considers the funding of education systems and highlights the importance of improving equity in financial, human, time and material resource allocation.

    • As such, this report follows on from the coverage of equity as a discreet policy lever in Education Policy Outlook 2018: Putting Students Learning at the Centre.

  3. 3. Strengthening coherence within increasingly complex education systems. Education policy makers need to create the conditions required to capitalise on the growing diversity of voice within systems.

    • Chapter 2 explores how overarching professional standards and competence frameworks are helping to harmonise the various drivers of quality teaching.

    • Chapter 3 looks at how evaluation and assessment frameworks can be used to bring together the various evaluation and assessment components at the student, school, and system levels to create an environment of continuous improvement.

    • Chapter 4, which focuses on governance, examines the need to set ambitious and measurable goals at the national level to steer the system in a coherent direction, as well as refining formal structures to streamline decision making.

  4. 4. Harnessing digital technologies in a responsible manner. Technology will inevitably play an important role in any truly successful 21st-century education system.

    • Chapter 2 looks into improving the capacity of the teaching profession to use technology to enhance students’ and their own learning. It also explores ways in which education systems have more recently been expanding access to digital technology at the school level.

    • Chapter 3 considers the digitalisation of student assessment and the use of technology in managing system and school evaluation and assessment components.

    • Chapter 5 analyses policy approaches to the use of material resources, such as through the establishment of formal structures to manage monitoring processes in the education system.

The four key messages of this report come together to promote a view of policy making that emphasises “whole-system” approaches for education ecosystems. Such a view leads to the creation and promotion of horizontal and vertical synergies across and within system levels. Policy makers who adopt such an approach to education policy can help establish a culture of collaboration, shared purpose and efficiency, all crucial to ensuring the future success of education systems.

copy the linklink copied!A broad summary of how education policy priorities and reforms have evolved over the last decade

About this report

As part of the Education Policy Outlook series, this comparative report builds upon a specific analytical framework of six policy levers (see Box 1.1). It is a follow-up to the comparative report Education Policy Outlook 2018: Putting Student Learning at the Centre, which looked into the evolution of policy priorities and policy trends to foster equity and quality and to prepare students for the future. That report also presented some key lessons learned from the emerging culture of policy evaluation. In 2015, a first comparative report Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reform Happen, provided a comparative overview and analysis of education policies and the factors affecting their implementation.

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Box 1.1. About the Education Policy Outlook

The Education Policy Outlook is an analytical observatory of education policies spanning from early childhood education and care to higher education mainly across OECD countries’ education systems. It monitors the evolution of education policy priorities and key education policies according to changes in their specific contexts, as well as the impact of these policies at a student, institution, and system level according to six policy levers:

  • Students: How to raise outcomes for all in terms of: 1) equity and quality; and 2) preparing students for the future.

  • Institutions: How to raise quality through: 3) institutional improvement; and 4) evaluation and assessment.

  • System: How the system is organised to improve education policy in terms of: 5) governance and 6) funding.

This series consists of three strands of work: comparative analysis (through comparative work and research on policy evaluation), country-based work (through country profiles and a Reforms Finder) and stakeholder engagement (through the Education Policy Reform Dialogues).

For 2017-19, the Education Policy Outlook focuses on a comparative analysis of the evolution of education policy priorities across OECD member countries and selected partner economies. It also studies the lifecycles of key policies (comprising the implementation, consolidation, change or completion of a policy, as well as the possible evaluation at any point of its lifecycle).

More information is available at http://www.oecd.org/education/policyoutlook.htm.

This edition of the Education Policy Outlook analyses the evolution of education policy priorities and education policy reforms, as well as emerging evidence regarding progress or impact in the areas of school improvement (Chapter 2), evaluation and assessment (Chapter 3), governance (Chapter 4) and funding (Chapter 5). It then presents an analysis of policy implementation across selected education systems (Chapter 6), as well as a perspective from the teaching profession on successful collaboration experiences with governments (Chapter 7). Finally, it presents 29 OECD country snapshots, which centralise the country-based information collected from education systems for this report (Chapter 8).

The OECD Secretariat analysed the evolution of policy priorities across the education systems of 43 OECD member countries and non-member economies. In the context of this report, policy priorities refer to the key challenges, issues and objectives identified by the actors involved in an education system based on their own analysis of the system’s performance. They are classified here according to the periods when they were identified, 2008-14 and 2015-19. If the priorities are reported by the education systems themselves, they are classified as either persisting (2008-19) or emerging (2015-19).

Relevant principles of action are also included in this analysis. As established in previous publications in this series, analysis conducted by the OECD indicates that certain principles of action recommended in one education system can serve as inspiration for other education systems, even though the specifics of implementation may differ according to context, available resources, existing policy initiatives, as well as the relative and perceived importance of the policy priority (see the Reader’s Guide).

In some cases, education systems did not report policy priorities that had been previously identified by the OECD as priorities for their education system. This gap may be due to the existence of ongoing policies targeting those priorities. If this is the case, and only when possible, this report provides relevant examples of the ongoing policies. It may also be due to a lack of available resources within the system, the existence of other needs identified as being more important, or a lack of public relevance, among other things. Monitoring policy priorities can, therefore, help governments by offering a more effective overview of trends and focus, supporting the development of stronger education policy agendas in the future.

This comparative report also provides an overview of key policy trends in school improvement, evaluation and assessment, governance and funding as seen in policies collected by the OECD across 34 participating education systems between 2008 and 2019. This includes policies that were first implemented from 2008 to 2014 and are still in place, albeit with significant modifications in some cases, as well as more recent policies first implemented between 2015 and 2019. Included in this overview is a summary of the available evidence of progress or impact.

School improvement

School improvement policies are essential in establishing the conditions required for a more innovative and flexible education system that supports student achievement according to individual needs and social and technological change. This report defines school improvement policies as those that aim to strengthen learning environments and develop high-quality teachers and school leaders.

Differences in priorities identified by countries and the OECD

The policy priorities for school improvement reported by education systems were generally aligned with those identified by the OECD. Overall, improving teachers’ qualifications, skills and training was the most commonly identified priority for the OECD in the work that it undertook with participating education systems. However, participating education systems reported improving learning conditions to support all students slightly more often. Attracting teachers to the profession and retaining them was a frequently identified priority for both the OECD and education systems. Conversely, the OECD identified improving the competencies of school support staff much more often than education systems.

Evolution of trends

In 2015, the Education Policy Outlook provided an account of key education policies for school improvement implemented by participating education systems between 2008 and 2014. That report found school improvement reforms within three identifiable categories: promoting positive learning environments; developing effective school leadership; recruiting, developing and retaining high-quality teachers.

Analysis of key policies reported by education systems for this publication shows a high level of continuity in approaches to school improvement. Nevertheless, a few, more specific, policy areas have gained importance, such as harnessing digital technology, to improve learning environments. Although policies related to high-quality teachers remain the most common, there is a shift in focus from initial teacher education to professional development. This suggests a logical development in policy work in this area over time.

Comparing trends in policy priorities and policy developments

There is some notable alignment between policy priorities and trends for school improvement during the period 2008-19. The two most commonly identified or reported priorities were related to teachers, as was the highest number of collected policies. However, education systems’ policy efforts often focused on specific aspects of teacher education, such as collaborative approaches and specific incentives or stimuli to attract and retain teachers. Fewer policies addressed general working conditions, particularly in terms of labour market operation, despite attraction and retention being an important priority area.

Regarding learning environments, the most recent policies appear to focus on the digitalisation of schools, including improving information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, capacity building and digitalising student plans. This is not a commonly identified policy priority, however. Furthermore, while both the priorities and policies collected from education systems focus on improving learning conditions for all students, fewer policy examples were identified that specifically target school support staff, despite the interconnectedness of these two areas.

The majority of policies collected for this report for school leadership were first implemented in 2008-14. This suggests relative continuity and stability in this policy area. Nevertheless, the small number of recent policies, and the lower prominence of school leadership as a priority should be noted, particularly in the context of growing school autonomy.

Information about progress and impact, when available, offers some valuable insight to policy makers working on school improvement. Reforms focused on developing learning environments seem particularly impactful and better received when they encourage collaboration across administrative levels or between institutions. Such an approach provides opportunities for learning-focused dialogue. Similarly, the initiatives aiming to improve the quality of teachers and school leaders that show the most positive impact focus on collaboration, mentoring and dialogue. Nevertheless, there is limited evidence as to the impact of these initiatives on student learning, specifically. Impact evidence is also scarce for teacher salary increases and other initiatives related to teacher recruitment and retention, despite the significant financial investments entailed. Education systems should be more deliberate in planning for effective policy evaluation in the area of school improvement reform.

Overview of policy priorities

Policy priorities for the period 2008-19 in the area of school improvement cover seven areas: 1) improving teacher qualifications, skills and training (31 education systems); 2) attracting and retaining teachers (23 education systems); 3) improving learning conditions to support all students (23 education systems); 4) improving school leaders’ qualifications, participation in professional development and clearly defining their role (14 education systems); 5) improving teachers’ working conditions (12 education systems); 6) supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff (8 education systems); and 7) raising the attractiveness of the school leader position (6 education systems) (see Figure 1.4).

With regard to improving teacher qualifications, skills and training:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Belgium (Flemish Community), Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Australia, Belgium (French Community), Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Turkey.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) establish clearly defined standards for teacher knowledge across subjects and levels; 2) improve teacher preparation and introduce probationary periods; 3) provide up-to-date professional development that is relevant and embedded within teacher evaluation; and 4) improve pathways for career progression and development.

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Figure 1.4. Policy priorities for school improvement, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19
Figure 1.4. Policy priorities for school improvement, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A for the year of the country study considered.

2. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, as well as validation processes from education systems collected during 2019. Responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 (see the Reader’s Guide).

3. The total number of education systems where this priority was identified by the OECD, education systems or both, is included in brackets.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997113

With regard to attracting and retaining teachers:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Finland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Belgium (Flemish and German-speaking Communities), Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England).

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) encourage high-quality candidates to enter the teaching profession; and 2) improve retention.

With regard to improving learning conditions to support all students:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Austria, Belgium (Flemish Community), Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece, Latvia and the Slovak Republic.

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Belgium (French Community), Canada (federal view), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) introduce measures to improve learning conditions for all students; 2) enhance human resource strategies to strengthen teaching and learning; 3) invest in physical infrastructure to develop school environments that allow improvement to take place; and 4) provide greater support, including financial incentives, to teachers.

Overview of policy trends

The OECD Secretariat selected and reviewed 130 school-improvement-related policies (see Figure 1.5). Of these, 73 have remained in place since they were first implemented between 2008 and 2014, albeit with substantial modifications in some cases. The remaining 57 are recent policies implemented from 2015-19.

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Figure 1.5. Trends in education policies for school improvement, 2008-19
Figure 1.5. Trends in education policies for school improvement, 2008-19

Notes: The total number of policy developments is included in brackets. All policies included in this figure are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and EPO Survey 2016-17 and EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat and validation processes undertaken in 2019.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997132

For each trend, education systems employed the following common strategies:

  • High-quality teachers: Policies collected focus on developing professional frameworks and career pathways, stimulating recruitment and registration, adopting incentives and stimuli to improve teacher retention and strengthening initial teacher education, induction and professional development. These policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Canada (Ontario), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and Wales).

  • Learning environments: Policies collected consist of general strategies for schools, improving learning conditions and support for all students and promoting digitalisation at the school level. These policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (French and German-speaking Communities), Canada (Saskatchewan), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United Kingdom (England and Wales).

  • School leaders: Policies collected target establishing professional frameworks and developing professional competencies. These policies were implemented by Australia, Canada (Nova Scotia), Chile, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

Evaluation and assessment

Education systems need to design evaluation and assessment components that provide information to support the improvement of student outcomes in a timely and useful manner. According to the Education Policy Outlook Analytical Framework, evaluation and assessment policies include those that aim to strengthen student assessment, school evaluation, teacher appraisal, system evaluation, and evaluation and assessment frameworks.

Differences in priorities identified by countries and the OECD

The policy priorities identified by the OECD and those reported by education systems are somewhat aligned. Both recognise the need to develop a coherent evaluation and assessment framework and strengthen internal and external school evaluations. However, there are also some inconsistencies. While improving the quality and reliability of student assessments was identified as a priority by both the OECD and education systems, and building the assessment competencies of teachers and school leaders was identified by the OECD as a priority in several education systems, this was not reported as a priority by any education system. Similarly, addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components was much more frequently identified by the OECD than reported by education systems.

Evolution of trends

In 2015, the OECD collected key reforms on evaluation and assessment implemented in participating countries between 2008 and 2014. The report that followed identified three broad policy trends: 1) using summative and formative student assessment; 2) ensuring quality with internal and external school evaluations; and 3) guiding improvement with system-level evaluation and assessment (OECD, 2015[16]).

Analysis of the key policies reported by education systems for the period 2008-19 shows some continuity: student assessment, school evaluation and system evaluation remain the main areas of focus. More specific policy areas have now developed as well: within student assessment, countries are increasingly looking to broaden and digitise assessments to improve learning and accountability. Similarly, a significant number of policy efforts collected for this report, including many recent ones, focus on building effective information systems for system evaluation.

Comparing trends in policy priorities and policy developments

There are some notable disparities between policy priorities and reported policy reforms for evaluation and assessment during the period 2008-19. Developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework and addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components are two of the most commonly cited policy priorities. However, there are notably fewer policy efforts in these areas, particularly the latter. Both system evaluation and evaluation and assessment frameworks are highly relevant for education systems’ capacity for “systems thinking” and foresight, but, apart from some system-level evaluation planning, little policy work of this nature was seen.

Similarly, hardly any policies were reported for teacher appraisal, whereas it was cited as a priority in some cases by the OECD and education systems. Data show that legal mechanisms for appraisal are in place across a variety of education systems. Nevertheless, these mechanisms must be able to cope with the changing demands placed on teachers and developments in what students need to learn.

Finally, the highest number of policy efforts were collected for student assessment, although this was a less commonly reported priority. Efforts appear more focused on strengthening the design of student assessments, with fewer examples of how school staff’s assessment competencies are being strengthened to use these tools. These two areas need to be addressed concurrently to enable effective policy implementation. However, education systems have expressed interest in strengthening internal or internal/external evaluation components, which could be how they are aiming to respond to building capacity and monitoring needs.

The progress and impact of policy efforts related to evaluation and assessment highlight two common experiences. First, many education systems have had to reinforce reforms related to student assessment or school evaluation by issuing further guidance, support tools, training opportunities and handbooks, primarily for teachers and school leaders, but also for parents and students. This demonstrates the importance of embedding quality capacity building throughout the reform process. In addition, some systems have encountered substantial resistance from stakeholders, particularly when changes are perceived as increasing high-stakes assessment or administrative burden. This indicates a need for careful communication plans and comprehensive, ongoing consultation processes.

Overview of policy priorities

There are six identifiable policy priorities in the area of evaluation and assessment for education systems for 2008-19: 1) developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework (25 education systems); 2) addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components (25 education systems); 3) achieving quality internal and external school evaluations for ongoing improvement (25 education systems); 4) enhancing the quality and reliability of student assessments (15 education systems); 5) establishing effective teacher appraisal mechanisms (7 education systems); and 6) building assessment competencies among teachers and school leaders (based on the policy priorities commonly identified by the OECD) (7 education systems) (see Figure 1.6).

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Figure 1.6. Policy priorities for evaluation and assessment, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19
Figure 1.6. Policy priorities for evaluation and assessment, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A for the year of the country study considered.

2. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, as well as validation processes from education systems collected during 2019. Responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 (see the Reader’s Guide).

3. The total number of education systems where this priority was identified by the OECD, education systems or both, is included in brackets.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997151

With regard to developing a coherent evaluation and assessment framework:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Belgium (French Community), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) design well-developed components that relate in a coherent manner to one another and to the context, and are accompanied by a strategic implementation plan; 2) construct a clear, rational and compelling narrative; 3) engage stakeholders throughout the process; and 4) build capacity across the system.

With regard to addressing the absence or underdevelopment of system evaluation components:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Belgium (Flemish Community), the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), the Czech Republic, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico and Turkey.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) broaden the concept of system evaluation to cover the wide range of system-level, ongoing monitoring that permits a good understanding of how well student learning objectives are being achieved; 2) develop capacity across the system; and 3) use data to inform improvement.

With regard to achieving quality internal and external school evaluations:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish Community), Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Australia, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (England).

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these countries include: 1) strengthen and balance systematic internal and external school evaluations that go beyond basic compliance; 2) establish a shared vision; and 3) build capacity across the system.

Overview of policy trends

The OECD Secretariat also selected and reviewed a total of 80 policies on evaluation and assessment (see Figure 1.7). Of these, 43 were initially implemented between 2008 and 2014 and have remained in place since then, albeit with substantial modifications in some cases. The remaining 37 policies were implemented between 2015 and 2019.

For each trend, education systems employed the following approaches:

  • Student assessment: Policies collected consist of introducing structural changes, expanding the scope of student assessments and digitalising assessment processes. Policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (French Community), Canada (Federal and Alberta), the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland).

  • School evaluation: Policies collected focus on strengthening external school evaluations or internal school evaluations and developing internal and external school evaluation mechanisms in parallel. Policies were implemented by Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland).

  • System evaluation: Policies collected target developing information systems. Policies were implemented by Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia and Turkey.

  • Evaluation and assessment frameworks: Policies collected focus on achieving greater clarity and interconnections within existing frameworks. Policies were implemented by Finland, Germany and Korea.

  • Teacher appraisal: Policies collected consist of developing more comprehensive appraisal mechanisms to support teacher improvement. Policies were implemented by Australia, Italy and Mexico.

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Figure 1.7. Policy trends in education policies for evaluation and assessment, 2008-19
Figure 1.7. Policy trends in education policies for evaluation and assessment, 2008-19

Notes: The total number of policy developments is included in brackets. All policies included in this figure are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17 and EPO Country Profiles published during 2017-18 for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat and validation processes undertaken in 2019.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997170

Governance

In today’s increasingly complex systems, education systems are making considerable efforts to ensure that governance structures facilitate effective planning, implementation and delivery of education policies. As defined in this report, governance-related policies include those that aim to set system objectives and priorities, refine formal structures and engage stakeholders.

Differences in priorities identified by countries and the OECD

The policy priorities for governance reported by education systems were somewhat aligned with those identified by the OECD, most notably regarding the clarification of divisions of responsibility between national and local authorities and schools, which is the most commonly cited priority by both the OECD and education systems. However, there are also some important disparities. The OECD identified the introduction of quality assurance mechanisms and engaging stakeholders in decision making as policy priorities considerably more frequently than the participating education systems.

Evolution of trends

In 2015, the OECD canvassed key education policies for governance implemented by education systems between 2008 and 2014. The report that followed presented governance-related reforms within three broad focus areas: general strategies, education priorities and re-organisation of decision making.

Analysis of the key policies collected for this publication show continuity in the focus of policy efforts, but a new distribution of efforts across those areas. Whereas policies related to developing education strategies was the least active area of policy reported in 2015, setting system objectives was by far the most active area identified for this report. However, this is at least partly explained by the new inclusion of curricula policies within this policy area; in the 2015 report, these policies were considered as part of school improvement, although less had been collected at that time.

Comparing trends in policy priorities and policy developments

There is some alignment between policy priorities and reported policy reforms for governance for the period 2008-19. Clarifying the division of responsibility across the system was the most cited policy priority, and many policy efforts were reported in this area. A considerable number of these focused on creating or modifying bodies in charge of quality assurance processes, particularly through the amalgamation of agencies and bodies to create greater coherence. Decentralising decision making through transferring responsibilities for administrative and pedagogical matters from central government to local authorities or education institutions was another common way in which this priority area was addressed.

Establishing national strategies and plans is by far the most frequent policy tool used among countries participating in this report. This shows alignment with the commonly cited priority of defining national education priorities and goals, although activity was much more extensive than priority reporting suggested. In addition, this corroborates the idea that governance of evermore complex education systems increases the need for foresight and systemic vision. In line with this, many education systems also reported updating learning expectations and frameworks to meet the requirements of today’s changing social and economic environment.

A rather limited number of policies have been found that aim to effectively enhance participation in the education system, however; this is consistent with the fact that very few education systems reported this as a policy priority. Stakeholder engagement is crucial for effective and efficient education governance and student learning. This is clearly illustrated by the evidence of progress and impact collected for this report across all policy areas; implementation is facilitated by purposeful and ongoing efforts to engage students, and is inhibited by a lack of engagement or buy-in. The OECD, therefore, encourages education systems to reflect on mechanisms to strengthen stakeholder engagement in the future.

Regarding governance-related policies, evidence collected for progress and impact offers some interesting insights. National priority and target setting, for example, proves to be a particularly valuable approach when long-term national goals are broken down into shorter-term actions and sub-actions with concrete outputs. This then helps inform policy decision making across the rest of the system and encourages ongoing monitoring. When it comes to curriculum reform, allowing sufficient time for gradual development and implementation seem key, as this enables stakeholders to be fully engaged across the process and to implement new processes according to local contexts. Some of the most interesting and successful examples occur when systems thinking allows initiatives in policy areas such as school evaluation and teacher development to be carefully aligned with wider-reaching initiatives such as curricular reforms. This encourages stakeholder buy-in, capacity building and engagement, which in turn enables actors to implement change.

Overview of policy priorities

There are five identifiable policy priorities in the area of governance for education systems for 2008-19: 1) clarifying the division of responsibility across the system (32 education systems); 2) defining national education priorities and goals (27 education systems); 3) engaging stakeholders in decision making (24 education systems); 4) introducing quality assurance mechanisms (20 education systems); and 5) strengthening data collection for monitoring and accountability (12 education systems) (see Figure 1.8).

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Figure 1.8. Policy priorities in education system governance, 2008-19
Figure 1.8. Policy priorities in education system governance, 2008-19

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A for the year of the country study considered.

2. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, as well as validation processes from education systems collected during 2019. Responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 (see the Reader’s Guide).

3. The total number of education systems where this priority was identified by the OECD, education systems or both, is included in brackets.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997189

With regard to clarifying the division of responsibility across the system:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England).

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) clarify decision-making responsibilities and support capacity building at national or local levels of administration; and 2) grant more autonomy to schools and higher education institutions.

With regard to defining national education priorities and goals:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Belgium (Flemish Communities), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) create national education strategies, plans and frameworks; and 2) reform curricula to modernise learning expectations.

With regard to engaging stakeholders in decision making:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are the Czech Republic, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan and Mexico.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) engage parents, students and the school community; 2) promote school networking and peer learning; 3) engage employers and the private sector; and 4) foster internationalisation.

Overview of policy trends

The OECD Secretariat also selected and reviewed a total of 164 policies related to governance for this analysis (see Figure 1.9). From these policies, 82 were initially implemented between 2008 and 2014 and have remained in place until at least 2019, albeit with substantial modifications in some cases. The remaining 82 policies were implemented between 2015 and 2019.

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Figure 1.9. Policy trends in education policies for system governance, 2008-19
Figure 1.9. Policy trends in education policies for system governance, 2008-19

Notes: The total number of policy developments is included in brackets. All policies included in this figure are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17 and EPO Country Profiles published in 2017 and 2018 for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat and validation processes undertaken in 2019.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997208

Education systems employed the following common strategies for each trend:

  • Setting objectives: Policies collected focus on developing national strategies or plans and modernising curricula and qualifications frameworks. Policies were implemented by Australia, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England).

  • Refining formal structures: Policies collected target implementing or reforming agencies and mechanisms for quality assurance and decentralising decision making. Policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland).

  • Engaging stakeholders: Policies collected consist of creating participatory boards or councils or better engaging the private sector and local employers. Policies were implemented by Australia, Belgium (French Community), Estonia, Greece, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey.

Funding

Ensuring that the resources invested in education systems are directed to the areas where improvements in teaching and learning outcomes can be best achieved is critical work for policy makers. As defined in this report, funding policies include those that address the economic resources within the education system and the use of resources at the school level.

Differences in priorities identified by countries and the OECD

There is some alignment in the policy priorities identified by the OECD and those reported by education systems. Improving efficiency in the use of resources is a popular priority for both. However, tackling shortages in high-quality teachers and school leaders and revising the sources of funding for educational institutions were much more commonly identified by the OECD than reported by education systems.

Evolution of trends

In 2015, the OECD reported on the key funding-related policies implemented by participating education systems between 2008 and 2014. That report collated reforms within three policy areas: public and private funding at the system level, institution-level funding and student-centred approaches to funding (OECD, 2015[16]).

The key policies reported by education systems for this report exhibit some continuity in policy efforts for funding with trends identified at the system, institutional and student levels. However, the trend areas have been significantly refined for this report and new cross-cutting areas of focus, such as efficiency and equity, have become more prevalent.

Comparing trends in policy priorities and policy developments

There is some notable alignment between policy priorities and trends for funding during the period 2008-19. Investing sufficient financial resources in education and improving efficiency in their use were the most frequently identified policy priorities. Similarly, the highest number of policy efforts were reported for the area of financial resources. In particular, these focused on improving access to, and quality of, early childhood education and care (ECEC) through increasing funding or introducing performance-based funding mechanisms for higher education. These types of policy reforms appear to be growing in significance; many were implemented during 2015-19.

The commonly cited policy priorities of improving efficiency and equity in educational expenditure are also reflected in the high number of reforms relating to the use of funding. Several education systems have introduced targeted support to certain population sub-groups, predominantly the socio-economically disadvantaged, often through improving the quantity and quality of human resources available to support these groups. In contrast, despite being a less frequently reported policy priority, many reforms tackling shortages of human and material shortages were collected, particularly regarding teacher salary increases and school infrastructure.

Reforming sources of education funding is a less frequently identified policy priority and consequently appears to have received less attention from policy makers. There are very few collected policy efforts in the area of private financing of education, although several education systems have invested public funding in transfers to households, particularly to cover higher education tuition fees.

According to the progress and impact of policy efforts collected for this report, where large-scale funding reforms have been introduced, they are often informed by expert reviews and inquiries. However, many other funding reforms appear to be implemented in a piecemeal approach, expanding year on year: in such cases, there is little evidence of careful evaluation at each stage, suggesting a need for more evidence-informed decision making. Furthermore, a common challenge lies in ensuring that public funds meet demand, both to achieve full coverage of eligible students and to ensure continuity in the longer term. Finally, education systems appear to introduce reforms in resource use in reaction to contextual changes, such as teacher shortages or student numbers; building capacity for foresight could, therefore, help make systems more anticipatory as opposed to reactive.

Overview of policy priorities

There are six identifiable policy priorities in the area of funding for education systems for 2008-19: 1) increasing or maintaining educational expenditure (24 education systems); 2) improving efficiency in the use of resources (23 education systems); 3) improving equity in resource allocation (23 education systems); 4) revising sources of funding in educational institutions (16 education systems); 5) refining the criteria and mechanisms used to allocate funding to schools and educational institutions (15 education systems); and 6) tackling shortages of human and material resources in schools (12 education systems) (see Figure 1.10).

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Figure 1.10. Policy priorities for funding, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19
Figure 1.10. Policy priorities for funding, as identified by the OECD and participating education systems, 2008-19

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A for the year of the country study considered.

2. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, as well as validation processes from education systems collected during 2019. Responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 (see the Reader’s Guide).

3. The total number of education systems where this priority was identified by the OECD, education systems or both, is included in brackets.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997227

With regard to increasing or maintaining educational expenditure:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Belgium (Flemish Community), Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Kingdom (England) and the United States.

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Austria, Belgium (Flemish Community), the Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Turkey.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) invest in early educational levels (ECEC and primary); 2) shift funds from higher education to primary and secondary levels; and 3) invest in higher education and vocational education and training (VET).

With regard to improving efficiency in the use of resources:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Belgium (Flemish Community), Chile, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

  • General principles of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems include: 1) consolidate small schools to achieve economies of scale; 2) reduce spending while preserving service provision; and 3) improve the use of budget plans.

With regard to improving equity in resource allocation:

  • The OECD identified this as a policy priority for Australia, Belgium (Flemish Community), Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

  • Education systems that reported this as a priority between 2008 and 2019 are Austria, Belgium (French and German-speaking Communities), the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand and Slovenia.

  • A general principle of action recommended by the OECD for these education systems is to provide targeted support to disadvantaged population sub-groups.

Overview of policy trends

The OECD Secretariat also selected and reviewed a total of 98 funding-related policies for this analysis (see Figure 1.11). Of these, 53 were initially implemented between 2008 and 2014 and have remained in place, albeit with substantial modifications in some cases. The remaining 45 policies were implemented between 2015 and 2019.

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Figure 1.11. Policy trends in education policies for funding, 2008-19
Figure 1.11. Policy trends in education policies for funding, 2008-19

Notes: The total number of policy developments is included in brackets. All policies included in this figure are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17 and EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018 for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat and validation processes undertaken in 2019.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997246

For each policy trend, education systems employed the following common strategies:

  • Financial resources: Policies collected target investing in ECEC, primary and secondary education, and introducing performance-based and needs-based funding in higher education. Policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (National and Flemish and German-speaking Communities), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England).

  • Use of resources: Policies collected focus on improving or introducing targeted support to population sub-groups and increasing efficiency in time, human and material resources. Policies were implemented by Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French Communities), Chile, Germany, Greece, France, Iceland, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (England).

  • Sources of funding: Policies collected consist of increasing the amount of public financial aid available to students across education levels, encouraging private sector involvement and increasing tuition fees. Policies were implemented by Canada, Chile, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland).

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Chapter 1. Overview