Here’s the Guardian’s take on the new OECD report on equity and quality in education which we highlighted yesterday:
Dividing younger pupils by ability can entrench disadvantage, study finds
OECD study finds countries that stream pupils into ability groups at an early age tend to have lower levels of achievement
by Jessica Shepherd
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based thinktank, analysed successes and failures in education systems in 39 of the world’s most developed nations.
It found that countries that divided pupils into ability groups at an early age tended to have higher numbers of school drop-outs and lower levels of achievement.
Beatriz Pont, an education analyst and one of the authors of the OECD’s study, said streaming by ability at an early age “fuelled a vicious cycle” in which teachers had low expectations of students in the lowest sets.
These students were often “locked into a lower educational environment before they had a chance to develop … their potential,” she said.
Her study – Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools – found the most experienced and capable teachers often taught pupils in the highest sets.
Streaming by ability “exacerbates inequities” because immigrants and pupils from low-income families are more likely to be placed in low-ability groups, she said.
The UK and the US had the joint highest proportion of pupils in schools that divide according to ability at 99% each. Countries, such as Finland, that are well-known for their high-performing education systems, had a far lower proportion – 58%.
Almost a fifth – 18% – of 25 to 34-year-olds in the UK did not complete the last years of secondary school. In Canada, the US and Germany, the figures were 8%, 12% and 14% respectively.
Pont said that countries should strive to make academic and vocational courses equivalent. The study recommends countries improve their education systems by stopping pupils from re-taking a year, eliminating setting by ability and allocating funding according to students needs.
Comments please. Not least on the fact that almost a fifth of pupils in the UK “did not complete the last years of secondary school”. What is it about secondary education in this country that makes so many pupils dislike it so much they refuse to go to school? How many more dislike school but somehow carry on due to teacher pressure and parental pressure? How can we enable more pupils to positively enjoy school? What do the best schools actually do to foster enjoyment of school?