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Working Together, Governments and Unions of Top-Performing Countries Show that it is Possible to Improve the Teaching Profession

Emiliana Vegas's picture

Last week, I traveled to New York City to attend the first International Summit on the Teaching Profession hosted by the US Department of Education, the OECD, and Education International, a global teachers union.  Of the 16 countries represented, all were top-performers in the international PISA tests, or rapid improvers, such as Poland and Brazil.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the meeting to learn from what other countries are doing to improve teaching and learning, a sign that not only is this task complex and challenging, but that it is critical to countries at all levels of development.

So how do these top-performers and rapid-improvers manage their teaching forces to achieve high learning outcomes? The goal of the Summit was to have frank and open discussions about what works. Each country’s delegation included both government and teacher representatives, thus recognizing from the start the need for collaboration in the design and implementation of teacher policy reforms.

Education Results Present a Wake-up Call to Countries

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 survey results were released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  PISA tests 15 year olds in reading, math and science.

Pisa 2009 results focus on reading, as they did in 2000 when the tests were first applied. In reading, as the OECD reports, Korea and Finland are the highest performing OECD countries, with mean scores of 539 and 536 points.  However, as noted in today's New York Times, Shanghai-China outperforms them by a significant margin, with a mean score of 556.  Top-performing economies in reading include Hong Kong-China (533), Singapore (526), Canada (524), New Zealand (521), Japan (520), Australia (515) and the Netherlands (508).

At the US release of the PISA results in Washington DC, which I was fortunate to attend today, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría, discussed the importance of the results in terms of competitiveness and growth.