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Education at a glance: 2011

OECD has released the 2011 version of Education at a Glance. It’s available for free download. This is an outstanding resource – review and have handy the next time you’re in a conference and a keynote speaker drones on about educational change, relying on opinions rather than stats. Most of the hype and declarations about the end of schools, universities, classrooms, etc., rely on listeners accepting a possible future state as inevitable reality. Come to think of it, I’ve made those appeals myself. However, if we want to get serious about reforms, we have to move away from vague emotional speak (such as this…my response is here) and consider actual data.

If it’s data you seek, then Education at a Glance 2011 will give you almost 500 pages to consider, including teacher salaries, the impact of student background on performance, educational attainment and employment, educational access, and so on. I’ve used the chart on teaching time (from previous versions of this OECD report) in my presentations in the past. The interesting aspect of this chart is that teaching time – much hallowed in most schools – actually decreases in high performing systems in countries like Finland. As the report states:

The proportion of working time spent teaching provides information on the amount of time available for activities such as lesson preparation, correction, in-service training and staff meetings. A large proportion of working time spent teaching may indicate that less time is devoted to tasks such as student assessment and lesson preparation.


  1. Jim wrote:

    What’s most interesting about this graph for me when I look at the amount of time spent teaching over the last decade in the US is how close the number is to the 40 hour work week when we do the math and subtract for Summer and vacations. A graph like this for each nation over the 20th century would be even more fascinating. I like stuff like this for cultural trends, but the problem with data is explaining the narrative between the plot points—it’s not easy, and demands a wide-range of research, imagination, and knowing. All core to inspire the data with life, data alone only frames potentiality—the story makes it so.

    All that said, I want to see more now :)

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  2. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Jim – good point. A few others criticized my post for similar reasons. The narrative between plot points – and for that matter, the narratives of what happens in the soft social dimensions of life are not reflected in this report. The report does get at the economic dimension of education. But that is only part of the picture…

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  3. Thomas wrote:

    What this graphic(and the analysis you took out from the report) doesn’t tell is what these teachers are using their extra time for.
    In countries like Poland or Russia for example, teachers wages are so low that a lot of them have a second part time job to make a living.
    Working time alone may not be enough to draw that kind of conclusion…

    Friday, September 16, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink