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A Comparative Imperative

Education has long been considered the great equalizer and the engine of the American Dream. In today’s knowledge economy, education is more important than ever. The OECD provides a unique forum to compare performance, share expertise, best practices and innovative ideas in hopes of providing students with the know-how and career-readiness to compete in the global marketplace of the 21st century. 

The United States benefits through its participation in two main OECD education bodies:

  • The Education Policy Committee (EDPC) coordinates the OECD's education activities and works to assist OECD member and non-member countries to achieve lifelong high quality education.
  • The Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) anticipates educational policies that will be relevant in the long term.

The OECD tracks, measures, and compares education performance in dozens of countries.  Its recommendations and useful data help education experts improve their systems and practices:

  • PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment) is a triennial international assessment of 15-year-old students' literacy in mathematics, reading, and science. PISA is the pre-eminent tool for benchmarking education performance internationally. More than 70 countries and education systems participated in the 2009 assessment. For more information, click on the White House’s website and OECD best practices and recommendations for the United States.
  • PIAAC (the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) is a new comparative assessment of adult literacy in 26 countries scheduled for 2011. It tests reading, math, and problem solving skills in a technology rich environment and surveys the skills adults say they actually use on the job.
  • Education at a Glance is an annual compendium of international education indicators. It examines graduation rates, the financial and human resources invested in education, access and barriers to education, participation and progression rates, as well as the learning environment and organization of schools. Click here to view the 2010 report.

In July 2011, the United States hosted the first ever International Summit on the Teaching Profession to explore ways to improve student performance through teachers.  The summit was organized in partnership with the OECD and the global teachers union Education International. It convened education ministers and national union leaders from 18 countries with high performing and rapidly improving educational systems.  Discussions focused on ways to recruit, train, re-train, and support teachers over the course of their careers.