Cottage industries

My attention was just drawn to a new OECD report, looking at educational spending and performance. Fave quote:

Education in Europe [and Australia – AL] continues as a cottage industry, with practitioners working in isolation and building their practice on folk wisdom about what works. Central prescriptions for what teachers should do, which still dominate European schools, will not transform teachers’ practices in the way that professional engagement in the search for evidence of what makes a difference can. Building this kind of evidence base for improved practice is a more sure way to raise performance levels than searching among the current practices of other countries, even though there are lessons to be learned there, particularly for the poorer performing countries.

It’s bizarre that the government in South Australia and the opposition in Tasmania are going to the polls promising to cut class sizes. Yet Australia has never seen a single randomised trial on the question of whether smaller classes raise student performance. My view is that cutting class sizes still further is not a good use of money, but I’d be quite happy to be proven wrong by a robust randomised trial, perhaps pitting a 10% class size cut against a 10% teacher pay rise.

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