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Raising Education Outcomes in Spain

Impressive progress has been made in raising participation in early childhood education as well as tertiary educational attainment over the past 30 years. However, the inflow of poorly educated youth into the labour market is unusually heavy for a high-income country, largely on account of high drop-out rates in lower secondary education which, in turn, reflect one of the highest grade repetition rates in the OECD. The supply of workers with intermediate vocational skills is surprisingly low, despite the high return, in terms of labour market outcomes that these skills offer, even if they have recently deteriorated. There is room to raise learning outcomes up to the end of compulsory school, as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), although, owing to a compressed distribution of such outcomes, the share of poorly performing pupils is not unusually large. While significant reforms have been undertaken to address these problems, more measures are needed to reduce grade repetition and raise education outcomes, by improving accountability of schools and school staff, as well as by raising school autonomy further than has already occurred. Vocational training needs to become more attractive. In tertiary education, few Spanish universities have attained a high level of international standing, and scope remains to improve the contribution tertiary attainment can make to gains in economic welfare, notably by reforming funding arrangements. Améliorer les résultats de l'enseignement en Espagne En l’espace de trente ans, les effectifs des services d’éducation préscolaire et de l’enseignement supérieur ont progressé de manière spectaculaire. Pourtant, la proportion de jeunes peu qualifiés qui entrent sur le marché du travail est particulièrement élevée pour un pays à haut revenu, ce qui s’explique notamment par de forts taux d’abandon dans le premier cycle du secondaire, avec, en corollaire, l’un des taux de redoublement les plus élevés de la zone OCDE. L’offre de travailleurs possédant une formation professionnelle de niveau intermédiaire est singulièrement faible, malgré les grands avantages que ces qualifications procurent en termes de débouchés sur le marché du travail, encore que la situation dans ce domaine se soit récemment dégradée. Des possibilités s’offrent jusqu’à la fin de la scolarité obligatoire pour améliorer les résultats de l’enseignement, comme en témoigne l’étude du Programme international pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA), même si la faible variance de ces résultats fait que la proportion des élèves faibles n’est pas particulièrement élevée. Des réformes importantes ont été entreprises pour résoudre ces problèmes, mais d’autres mesures sont nécessaires pour diminuer les redoublements et améliorer les résultats de l’enseignement. Il faut pour cela renforcer la responsabilité des établissements scolaires et de leur personnel, et développer leur autonomie. Par ailleurs, la formation professionnelle doit être rendue plus intéressante. S’agissant de l’enseignement supérieur, peu d’universités espagnoles ont acquis une réputation internationale, et il est possible de renforcer les avantages économiques résultant des formations supérieures, notamment en réformant les mécanismes de financement.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 666.

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Date of creation: 17 Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:666-en
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