The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is an international research organization drawing members from 34 developed nations. The OECD produces research and data with a focus on how various social programs and policies impact the global economy. One of their issue areas is education, and to that end the OECD has, in the last 50 years, completed and made public a wealth of research about international education policies, school systems and student and teacher performance.
In 2000, the OECD launched a comprehensive assessment of student performance in their 30 member countries (the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA), with additional data collected in 13 partner countries. Since 2000, the assessment has been completed every three years. The examinations always include reading, math and science, but in each of the assessment’s incarnations, there is a specific focus on one of these subjects, with an in-depth analysis of each country’s performance on several skills within the featured subject. In the most recent assessment (2009), 31 partner countries participated alongside the member countries, making PISA an increasingly comprehensive indicator of international education trends, as well as an increasingly influential indicator of where an individual country ranks in the global education race.
In 2008, the OECD introduced a companion to PISA, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which was carried out in 24 countries. TALIS is distributed to teachers and principals and includes questions about the state of schooling and teacher and principal preparation in their home countries. It was developed as an opportunity to allow educators to share their opinions on key policy areas. In 2013, more than 30 countries will participate in the survey. Because the OECD incorporates multiple world regions as well as countries in the survey (the 2008 survey was conducted on 4 continents), TALIS is emerging as another important indicator of trends in successful education systems across the world. Read alongside the PISA results, the TALIS results strongly indicate that countries with high teacher performance produce the best student results, regardless of resources.
PIAAC, another of OECD’s large-scale data-gathering projects, will be piloted in 2011 and will examine the skills of the adult workforce, with a focus on literacy, numeracy, and ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments. In order to collect the data, the OECD will carry out 5,000 in-home interviews of adults between the ages of 16 and 65 in each participating country. The OECD hopes that the data collected will allow participating countries’ governments and researchers to draw conclusions about the contribution of a country’s workforce to its economic health and growth prospects.
CERI is the arm of the OECD’s education directorate specifically focused on the impact of science and technology on education, and particularly on teaching and learning practices. Their research analyzes current educational trends with an eye towards future innovations.
Each year, the OECD releases Education at a Glance, which is a compilation of education statistics and qualitative observations across the OECD countries. In addition to the central report, the OECD also releases country notes, which are more in-depth analyses of each country’s educational system.
The OECD views vocational education and training, particularly at the upper- and post-secondary levels, as integral to a country’s economic success. The Education Directorate has completed several thematic reports about the state of vocational education in OECD countries.
The IEA is a membership organization comprised of international research institutions and governmental research agencies. IEA conducts several major international assessments covering teaching and learning in math, science, literacy and civic education. In addition to conducting these assessments and publishing the data, the IEA also produces analytical reports.
64 countries – both developed and developing – and 14 additional benchmarking participants (nine US states, three Canadian provinces and two members of the United Arab Emirates) take part in this study, which measures the math and science skills of fourth- and eighth-graders. The assessment is run every four years, the most recent taking place in 2011.
48 countries and 7 benchmarking education systems (three Canadian provinces, one US state, two members of the United Arab Emirates and Andalusia, Spain) participate in PIRLS, which measures fourth-grade literacy skills. The study not only measures reading comprehension, but includes a set of questionnaires to reveal the experiences children have as they learn to read. Currently in its third iteration, the data for the 2011 assessment has just been collected.
This study compares how participating countries (the US, Germany, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Botswana, the Philippines, Chile, Georgia and Oman) prepare their teachers to teach both primary and secondary mathematics. The survey determines the level of mathematics and science knowledge as well as the relationship between teacher salaries and student performance on international assessments.
One of the World Bank’s areas of interest is education strategies for developing nations. They have launched a ten-year strategy concerned with “Education for All” – extending educational equity and opportunity to some of the most underserved populations, and have completed extensive research on the world’s education systems. Their research topics including education for the knowledge economy, school-to-work transition, school management and many others.
APEC promotes education benchmarking among its member countries (which include many of those with the world’s top-performing education systems: Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Korea and New Zealand) and facilitates this process through comparative analysis. Their resources include a comparison of math and science standards across nations and a seminar on learning standards for English and other languages.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Bureau of Education (IBE) is a globally-oriented curriculum development center that specializes in field research. The ultimate goal of IBE is making quality education available to all.
The EU Education, Training and Youth Policy Bureau helps to establish EU-wide best practices in education, which may then be adopted by EU countries. This bureau also funds a number of EU-wide programs intended to promote international study, vocational training, school-teacher cooperation and adult education in each EU nation.
The Asia Society is dedicated to open communication collaboration between Asia and the rest of the world. The Center for Global Education at Asia Society brings together leaders and institutions from around the world to tackle one of the most critical education challenges today: how to educate all students for employability and citizenship in a global era.
The education ministers of the 10 member countries of ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia) convene on a regular basis in order to promote cooperation and mutual development. These ministers release joint statements and other publications about the state of education and educational innovation in Southeast Asia.
IALEI is a group of ten leading education institutions at top universities in ten different countries. These members collaborate on research in the education field with a particular focus on teacher education. Through meetings and publications, the IALEI serves as a think tank for policy makers in many countries.
INCA serves as both a repository for comparative reports on education systems and curriculum frameworks and as a database of detailed information about several countries’ education systems. It is managed by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in England, and funded by the UK’s Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency.