School reforms need to be tested

blog 2 school reforms

With only  1 in 10  education reforms being evaluated, a leading academic wants new policies to be given time to work and their impact analysed.

Teachers who have questioned the way politicians push through one school reform after another will welcome a report from the influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to the new report, trillions of dollars are spent on education reforms around the world without any effective evaluation to see if they have worked, the BBC reports. The OECD warns that there is too much political investment in announcing new policies and that there needs to be more emphasis on long-term evidence rather than short-term changes of direction.

“Too many education reforms are failing to measure success or failure in the classroom,” said OECD’s Andreas Schleicher. “While it is encouraging to see a greater focus on outcomes, rather than simply increasing spending, it’s crucial that reforms are given the time to work and their impact is analysed.”

According to Mr. Schleicher, implementation of education reforms can take 10 to 15 years – much longer than the demands of the political cycle. This can mean that incoming politicians are under pressure to announce new policies without any assessment of the uncompleted policies they are replacing. “This valuable investment must be deployed in the most effective way. Reforms on paper need to translate into better education in our schools and classrooms,” he said.

However, he did have some sympathy for reforming politicians like Michael Gove, noting that opponents to reform will always outnumber people who are in favour of change. “Parents are a very conservative force. Everybody wants the education system to improve but ‘not with my child’. The dynamics are very, very tough. It requires very strong political leadership.”

What are your views on the new OECD report? Do politics play too big a part in school reforms?

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