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Improving Second-level Education: Using Evidence for Policy Development


  • Smyth, Emer
  • McCoy, Selina


Second-level education has a crucial role to play in Ireland's long-term economic prosperity, as well as being intrinsically valuable, allowing young people to develop intellectually, socially and personally. Much of the debate internationally has focused on how countries compare against international benchmarks and indicators like PISA. This paper argues that, while we can potentially learn from what other systems have 'got right', it is important that we do not fall into the trap of engaging in 'policy borrowing'. Furthermore we now have a rich evidence base in Ireland on 'what works' in terms of school organisation and process. The paper reviews this evidence in a number of key areas: ability grouping, school climate, teaching and learning methods, and curriculum and assessment. The discussion reviews how these aspects of school policy and practice can make a substantive impact on student outcomes and act as 'drivers' of improvement, often requiring relatively modest levels of expenditure.

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  • Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina, 2011. "Improving Second-level Education: Using Evidence for Policy Development," Papers EC5, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:ec5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lorraine Dearden & John Micklewright & Anna Vignoles, 2011. "The Effectiveness of English Secondary Schools for Pupils of Different Ability Levels," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 225-244, June.
    2. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext163 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Henry M. Levin, 2010. "The economic payoff to investing in educational justice," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 5,in: María Jesús Mancebón-Torrubia & Domingo P. Ximénez-de-Embún & José María Gómez-Sancho & Gregorio Gim (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 5, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1-33 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    4. Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina, 2009. "Investing in Education: Combating Educational Disadvantage," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS006.
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    education/Policy/policy development/Ireland;

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