The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has announced that it is opening the “black box” of the classroom by conducting a cross-national video study of teaching. The study will be conducted in eight nations and education systems including Chile, China (Shanghai), Columbia, Germany (eight Länder), Japan, Mexico, Spain (Madrid), and the United Kingdom (England). It is aimed at determining what instructional practices are used, how they are interrelated, and which ones are most related to students’ cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes, according to OECD. The study will produce videos of classroom instruction, surveys of teachers and students, student assessments, and a review of instructional materials. Data collection will take place throughout 2018 and final report, highlighting country-specific teaching profiles, and a technical report explaining the methodology, will be released in late 2020. More information is available from the OECD.
This year in Victoria, Australia the state government raised the minimum entry standards for undergraduate teaching programs. High school graduates embarking on a teaching career must now achieve a much higher Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) than their predecessors. The ATAR is a ranking system used by higher education institutions in Australia to measure a student’s achievement in relation to other students. The Victoria government intends to raise the minimum standard even more in 2019 as part of a push to improve teacher quality and stem an oversupply of graduates entering the profession. All aspiring teachers will also be required to pass a new non-academic test measuring resilience, ethics and empathy. Although there has been some concern that the new standards could lead to a teacher shortage in the state, Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino, backs the effort. “We always said we wanted to raise the bar for those wanting to become teachers and to ensure we keep lifting standards in our classrooms,” he said. Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.
Head teachers representing over 5,000 schools involved in the “Worth Less?” campaign for equitable school funding argue that there is a link between school funding and social mobility in England. When local authorities in England are ranked according to school funding levels and the UK government’s 2017 social mobility index, six of the top ten areas for school funding and social mobility overlap. The social mobility index ranks how likely poor children are to do well in school, find a good job and have a good standard of living. Westminster, the top area in England for social mobility, is also ranked ninth for funding. Meanwhile, none of the 20 areas ranked lowest for funding are among the 50 areas ranked highest by the social mobility index. The vast majority of the top areas for both funding and social mobility are located in London, where schools receive extra funding to meet greater needs, such as supporting high-need students and English language learners. Typically, economically disadvantaged students in London outperform their peers outside London, pointing to the potential benefits of these additional supports. Read more from BBC News.
Each year hundreds of thousands of Japanese high-school seniors take the country’s standardized university entrance exam, known as the National Center Test for University Admissions, or simply the “Center Test”. Doing well on the test is key to gaining admission to a top-tier college. The pressure to perform well is intense for students and their families. However, the Ministry of Education is concerned that the exam, with its heavy reliance on rote memorization or vast amounts of knowledge, fails to prepare Japanese students to meet the challenges of a 21st-century world, and that teachers skew the materials they teach to what they know will be in the test. In response, the Ministry is set to roll out a new version of the exam in 2020, designed to assess critical thinking, judgment, and expression. It will, according to the Ministry, foster not just the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but also the ability to adapt to different professional environments and market needs. The Ministry’s purpose is to shift teaching priorities to these new areas of focus, prepare the next generation of workers to meet a challenging and often ruthless job market, and ultimately retain the country’s competitive edge in the global economy. Read more at The Atlantic.
In a bid to strengthen its innovation economy and workforce, officials in Shanghai announced new rules to ease access to immigration visas and, ultimately, Chinese green cards for graduates from top foreign universities. Green card holders receive the same rights as Chinese citizens in areas such as investment, buying housing and education. The new measures will allow select foreign talent to obtain a two-year residence permit within two years of graduation and to apply for a Chinese green card after working in Shanghai for three years. The reforms are part of a broader five-year effort to loosen visa restrictions to facilitate the import of top talent. “The eased green card rules will help us build up international expert teams more quickly, and [allow institutions to] help increase the efficiency of turning research results into products,” said Chen Ying, director of the Talent and Education Department of Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology.
Singapore’ five polytechnics offer post-secondary education with a strong emphasis on practice-based learning in nine industry clusters, including applied sciences, engineering, health sciences, and information and digital technologies. According to the latest Graduate Employment Survey, 86.4 percent of graduates in Singapore’s polytechnics were employed six months after graduation. Although this was a decline from 2016’s figure of 90.6 percent, the employment rate remains healthy and the median monthly pay of diploma holders continues to rise. The report suggests that the decline was partly due to the preferences of students upon graduation. Rather than seeking immediate full-time employment, more polytechnic graduates are choosing to pursue further studies. Read more about the survey results here.
Melanie Mark, British Columbia’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced that the province is adding almost 3000 new spaces in post-secondary technical training which is intended to result in 1000 additional graduates each year by 2023. Mark explained, “We are investing millions of dollars in the future creators of an innovative, strong and sustainable 21st century economy.” The tech sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the province, and it is expected that it will generate more than 80,000 new jobs in the next decade. The province is investing an initial CAN$4.4 million in the expansion of training. For more, see British Columbia Government News.