What ILSAs say or fail to say about the Spanish education system: why all the fuss?

23rd November 2020 : 17:00 - 18:00

Category: Public Seminar

Speaker: Professor Montserrat Gomendio, CSIC (Spanish National Research Council)

Location: Online - Microsoft Teams Live

Convener: Jo-Anne Baird

Audience: Public

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ILSAs show that student performance in Spain is lower than the OECD average and has shown no progress from 2000 until 2011/2012.

One of the main features is the low proportion of top performers. During this long period of stagnation, the education system was characterized by having no national (or standardized regional) evaluations and no flexibility to adapt to the different needs of the student population. The fact that the system was blind and rigid, plus the lack of common standards at the national level, gave rise to three major deficiencies: a high rate of grade repetition, which led to high rates of early school leaving, and large differences between regions.

These features of the Spanish education system represent major inequities. However, PISA findings were used to reinforce the misguided view that the Spanish education system prioritized equity over excellence. After the implementation of an education reform, some improvements in student performance took place in 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, the results for PISA 2018 in reading were withdrawn for Spain and then published in July with cautionary notes about the lack of comparability.

In this seminar, Montserrat Gomendio will discuss why changes in methodology may have led to unreliable results and what the wider implications of this may be.

About the speaker

Professor Montserrat Gomendio started her career as a biologist. She joined the University of Cambridge (UK) with a PhD studentship from St John’s College, then became a Research Fellow at Trinity Hall and continued her research as an Associate Lecturer.

She obtained a tenured position at the Spanish National Research Council and became Director of the National Science Museum and then Vice-President of the Spanish National Research Council. During the next stage of her career she worked on education and skills. She became Secretary of State for Education, Vocational Training and Universities (2012-2015) and then joined the OECD (2015-2019) first as Deputy Director for Education and then as Head of the OECD Centre for Skills.