ECEC integral to reducing disparity in school performance of disadvantaged children: OECD
Early education is integral to enable children – particularly those from disadvantaged families – to gain essential social and emotional skills, a new report form the OECD has found.
The Equity in Education: Breaking Down Barriers to Social Mobility report, published by the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), uses longitudinal data from five countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States) to assess the practices used to improve equity in education for all children.
“In times of growing economic inequality, improving equity in education becomes more urgent,” OECD says.
The report finds that, while some countries and economies that participate in PISA have managed to build education systems where socio-economic status makes less of a difference to students’ learning and well-being, “every country can do more”.
The report highlighted that findings relating to the influence of socio-economic status on students’ performance in science, reading and mathematics had narrowed over the last three years. “This implies that equity, or lack of it, is not a fixed feature of education systems. All countries can reduce the impact of socio-economic status on student performance, given the right education policies and practices.”
The report focuses on the performance of children in primary school and high school, analysing disparities in academic performance related to socio-economic status, finding that significant disparities are found in children as young as 10, and widen throughout students’ lives. The report then recommends key policies to reduce this disparity, including greater access to early childhood education and care.
“Less household wealth often translates into fewer educational resources, such as books, games and interactive learning materials in the home. In addition, families with limited income may not have access to early education if it is not publicly funded.”
The report then highlights the need for countries to “promote greater access to early childhood education and care, particularly amongst disadvantaged families, as these programs both provide more equitable learning environments and help children acquire essential social and emotional skills.”
The OECD’s findings support the Mitchell Institute’s recent report The capable country, which calls for rapid government action to boost capabilities across all stages of learning, from birth to 24 years – defining capabilities as those things which allow people to apply knowledge and skills, such as critical thinking, resilience, creativity, problem solving and communication.
More information on the PISA report, including videos, infographics, and notes on each country, can be found on the OECD website.