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Managing Choice, Coherence and
Specialisation in Upper Secondary Education
Webinar “The art of balancing curricular choice in upper
secondary education”
Camilla Stronati, Above and Beyond: Transitions in Upper
Secondary Education
29 February 2024
Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD
How does upper secondary education look like across OECD countries?
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
ISCED 2 ISCED 3 Age of first selection in the education system Compulsory education ending age
Starting age:
typically 15, but ranges
between 14 and 17
Compulsory education:
full cycle of upper
secondary education is
compulsory in 8
countries, but partially
compulsory in 19
Duration:
typically
lasts 3
years, but
ranges from
2 years to 5
years
Age of completion: typically 18, but ranges
between 17 and 20
Upper secondary education needs to fulfil different roles
1. Accommodate a wide range of student interests,
aspirations and learning levels
3. Equip students with relevant,
specialised and transversal skills
2. Help students narrow their areas of
interests, deepen their skills and knowledge
Different types of choice in upper secondary design
General programme
Spanish
Art
Physics
History
Vocational programme 1
Spanish
Art
Business
Tourism
Choice across programmes
Choice within
programmes
Vocational programme 2
Spanish
Physics
ICT
Health
Care
VET
Choice across programmes
programmes
Choice
within
programmes
4+ programmes
One programme
Significant choice
Limited choice
Structured systems
Austria, Germany, the
Netherlands and
Switzerland
Personalised systems
Australia, New Zealand, the
United States
Intermediate systems
Estonia, Poland, Denmark
Models for designing upper secondary education
3 key principles for upper secondary design
Choice:
Students make choices (orientation, subjects, levels) based
on future pathways and interests
English Maths
National
language
Basic General
Physics
Chemistry
Advanced
Specialisation:
Progressive skills
deepening
Coherence:
Directs choice and specialisation to guide young people
towards meaningful jobs and roles
> Personalised systems
> Coherence at risk (high stakes
decisions left to students)
Provide career guidance that
informs students about future
opportunities and labour market
needs
Ensure students develop
fundamental skills
Choice Coherence
Risk and mitigating strategies
> Structured systems
> Most intermediate systems
> Choice, and so engagement
and completion, at risk
Balance compulsory core with
some choice and opportunities to
specialise
> Breadth and solid
foundations at risk
> Might limit ability to adapt to
labour market needs
Ensure broad base in key skills
(also for VET)
Progressive specialisation for
trying out different subjects and
increasingly become specialised
Specialisation
Policy framework for balancing choice, coherence and specialisation
Thank you

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Managing Choice, Coherence and Specialisation in Upper Secondary Education - Camilla Stronati - 29feb24.pptx

  • 1. Managing Choice, Coherence and Specialisation in Upper Secondary Education Webinar “The art of balancing curricular choice in upper secondary education” Camilla Stronati, Above and Beyond: Transitions in Upper Secondary Education 29 February 2024 Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD
  • 2. How does upper secondary education look like across OECD countries? 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 ISCED 2 ISCED 3 Age of first selection in the education system Compulsory education ending age Starting age: typically 15, but ranges between 14 and 17 Compulsory education: full cycle of upper secondary education is compulsory in 8 countries, but partially compulsory in 19 Duration: typically lasts 3 years, but ranges from 2 years to 5 years Age of completion: typically 18, but ranges between 17 and 20
  • 3. Upper secondary education needs to fulfil different roles 1. Accommodate a wide range of student interests, aspirations and learning levels 3. Equip students with relevant, specialised and transversal skills 2. Help students narrow their areas of interests, deepen their skills and knowledge
  • 4. Different types of choice in upper secondary design General programme Spanish Art Physics History Vocational programme 1 Spanish Art Business Tourism Choice across programmes Choice within programmes Vocational programme 2 Spanish Physics ICT Health Care VET
  • 5. Choice across programmes programmes Choice within programmes 4+ programmes One programme Significant choice Limited choice Structured systems Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland Personalised systems Australia, New Zealand, the United States Intermediate systems Estonia, Poland, Denmark Models for designing upper secondary education
  • 6. 3 key principles for upper secondary design Choice: Students make choices (orientation, subjects, levels) based on future pathways and interests English Maths National language Basic General Physics Chemistry Advanced Specialisation: Progressive skills deepening Coherence: Directs choice and specialisation to guide young people towards meaningful jobs and roles
  • 7. > Personalised systems > Coherence at risk (high stakes decisions left to students) Provide career guidance that informs students about future opportunities and labour market needs Ensure students develop fundamental skills Choice Coherence Risk and mitigating strategies > Structured systems > Most intermediate systems > Choice, and so engagement and completion, at risk Balance compulsory core with some choice and opportunities to specialise > Breadth and solid foundations at risk > Might limit ability to adapt to labour market needs Ensure broad base in key skills (also for VET) Progressive specialisation for trying out different subjects and increasingly become specialised Specialisation Policy framework for balancing choice, coherence and specialisation