Good secondary-schooling key to ongoing educational, job success and Canada’s top-performing high school students are 20 times more likely to access a university education than those at the bottom, and they are also more likely to choose pure science topics, according to a new OECD publication, Pathways to Success.
Drawing on the results of the PISA (the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment) tests of 15-year-olds’ educational attainment and the Canadian Youth in Transition Survey, the study shows that while pathways taken by students from high school to university or a successful job entry may vary, they closely depend on learning outcomes in school. Pathways to Success also shows that students who score lowest in PISA are often those who take longest to complete secondary education and who move directly from school to work. Improving the performance of these students would lead to higher rates of completion of secondary education and post-secondary education pursuits.
Another OECD study, The High Costs of Low Educational Performance, shows that it is the quality of learning outcomes as measured in comparative tests such as PISA, rather than the length of schooling, that shapes the success of nations.
Using economic growth projections and a number of possible scenarios over the projected life-span of the generation of children born in 2010, this study shows that all countries could benefit significantly from even modest improvements in overall PISA rankings.
In the case of Canada, raising average PISA scores by 25 points over the next 20 years – an increase smaller than that achieved by Poland between 2000 and 2006 – would lead to increases in GDP by 2090 of more than 3 trillion in today’s Canadian dollars, or the equivalent of twice Canada’s current annual GDP.
For all OECD countries taken together, the increase would be even bigger, equivalent to around three times their combined current GDP.
“These numbers highlight the enormous impact that improved schooling outcomes have on our long-term economic and social well-being,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said. “They also show that these improvements can be achieved and that the cost of inaction far outstrips any conceivable cost of improvement.”
Get a full copy of Pathways to Success, download the PDF (2MB).
More information on OECD work about the PISA Programme is available from www.oecd.org/pisa.
Ireland and Mathematics
Engineers Ireland has proposed that tax breaks should be introduced to encourage unemployed engineers to retrain as teachers in mathematics and to enable existing Irish maths teachers to upskill, because of the low level of students taking the higher level papers in maths and science .
The group has published published proposals to raise the maths standards among students, which include a ban on calculators at primary and junior cycle level, more resources for the subject, as well as more time allocated to maths during the school day.
Engineers Ireland says every maths teacher should be given 10 days of additional training. It also says maths and Science teachers should be better qualified.
The report says reliance on calculators in early school interferes with the child's ability to appreciate numbers. It calls on the Minister for Education to ban their use in schools until after pupils have completed their Junior Certificate year.
The report should be available here at some point.