What Makes a Great School System?

On Wednesday, Teach For All board member and head of education for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Andreas Schleicher, shared his insights on what makes it possible for a school system to rapidly and dramatically improve and, ultimately, become great. Drawing on research and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which he designed and administers, and evidence from high-ranking school systems including those in Shanghai and Finland, Schleicher highlighted the qualities great school systems share: 
 
  • Environments where learning is central and engagement and responsibility are encouraged
  • The fostering of lifelong skills-oriented learning rather than qualifications-focused education
  • Sensitivity to individual differences
  • Continual assessment with formative feedback
  • A balance of autonomy and accountability
  • An approach that is demanding to every student but not overwhelming
  • Demand-sensitive and relevant learning
  • Learning that is collaborative and social
  • Connections across subjects and activities, in school and beyond
 
In addition to these common attributes, Schleicher argued that the world's best school systems employ high-quality teachers who support their students as they learn complex, differentiated work at high levels.
 
For Andreas Schleicher's full presentation at the Teach For All 2013 Global Conference, watch the video and view the Prezi.