Using data to improve schools

In a Ted talk Andreas Schleicher (see below) discusses the use of data, in particular PISA data, to improve schools and educational systems. He argues that high quality education enables countries to be competitive in today’s global economy.

To me, the interesting part of this talk is when the discussion moves on to what educational systems have done to become high performing educational systems. In this context a high performing educational system is one that has high achievement and high equity.

High performing school systems:

  • believe that all students are capable of success
  • place emphasis on teacher training and teacher professional learning
  • create an environment where teachers can work together to frame good pedagogical practice
  • enable teachers to figure out how to what to teach
  • have clear ambitious standards
  • create an environment that allow teachers and principals to innovate
  • have high performance across the entire system

Other things that resonated for me in the talk included:

  • High performing educational systems are not overly bureaucratic: they do not focus on compliance.
  • “the past was about delivered wisdom the challenge is to figure out how to enable user generated wisdom”

High performing educational systems spend their education dollar in different ways and place different weightings on the relative importance of:

  1. teacher salaries
  2. instructional time (eg the length of the school day or number of school days per year)
  3. teaching time and teacher professional learning
  4. class sizes

Governments make choices on how they will spend public money and must weigh up competing priorities. Hopefully, governments value high quality education for all, see high quality education for every child as an investment and place education towards the top of their priority list.

Whilst governments grapple with their priorities that of us in schools can can ask:

how do we create an environment in our schools where teachers feel safe to be pedagogically innovative in their classrooms?

Other resources:

PISA 2009: Key results