Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are countries moving towards more equitable education systems?

Ideally, school systems provide high-quality educational opportunities for all students, irrespective of the students’ backgrounds. students from socio-economically advantaged families and those from disadvantaged families should be equally likely to succeed in school. That is the ideal, anyway.

In most countries, the reality looks a lot different. PISA results have consistently shown that socio-economic disadvantage is linked to poor performance in school. in fact, on average across OECD countries, disadvantaged students are twice as likely to be among the poorest performers in reading compared to advantaged students. On average, a socio-economically advantaged student scores 88 points higher on the PISA reading test than a socio-economically disadvantaged student, a difference that is equivalent to more than two years of schooling.

The difference in reading performance between advantaged and disadvantaged students is highest – more than 100 score points – in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Dubai (UAE), France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.

Many countries and economies have made notable progress in narrowing the performance gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students while simultaneously improving overall performance. This shows that education systems can reduce the extent to which differences in socio-economic background relate to student performance while promoting learning for all students. Comparing results from PISA 2000 and PISA 2009 reveals that, in Albania, Chile, Germany and Latvia the relationship between students’ socio-economic status and their reading performance weakened and students’ overall reading performance improved. In Germany, for example, the performance gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students narrowed by more than 25 score points and the average reading performance improved by 13 points. In Chile, average performance in reading improved by 40 score points and the performance gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students narrowed by more than 15 score points.

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