Poland - Skilling up the next generation : an analysis of Poland’s performance in the program for international student assessment

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Facing the prospects of rapid demographic aging and decline over the coming decades, Poland needs a highly skilled workforce to help generate the productivity growth that it needs to fuel continued convergence of its living standards with those of its West European neighbors. Skilling up the workforce starts with equipping youth with the right cognitive and socio-emotional foundation skills. International research has identified three dimensions of skills that matter for good employment outcomes and economic growth: cognitive skills, such as literacy, numeracy, and creative and critical thinking or problem solving; socio-emotional skills and behavioral traits, such as conscientiousness, grit, and openness to experience; and job- or occupation-specific technical skills, such as the ability to work as an engineer. This report focuses on cognitive skills. It examines results for Poland from the program for international student assessment (PISA), which assesses the mathematics, reading, and science competencies of 15-year-olds. The overall effects of reform on Poland’s PISA scores have been positive, although isolating the precise impact of each reform element is difficult. There is evidence from PISA assessments replicated for older students in upper-secondary education in 2006, 2009 and 2012 that performance gaps previously found between vocational and general schools for 15-year-olds prior to the 1999 reform persist today in upper secondary education, where the performance of students in vocational upper-secondary schools trails that of their peers in general education.

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101562 Poland: Skilling up the next generation An analysis of Poland’s performance in the Program for International Student Assessment Poland: Skilling up the next generation An analysis of Poland’s performance in the Program for International Student Assessment Contents Figure 11. PISA scores in mathema cs improved between 2000 and 2012 across every ESCS percen le........... 27 Acknowledgments .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Figure 12. Improvements in performance and ESCS in Polish schools between 2000 and 2012 ......................... 28 Abbrevia ons and Acronyms.................................................................................................................................. 6 Figure 13: Between-school variance in mathema cs performance is limited in Poland ...................................... 29 Execu ve Summary ................................................................................................................................................ 7 Figure 14: Stra fica on in the educa on system according to PISA 2012 scores ................................................ 30 1. Why Skills Ma er for Poland ............................................................................................................................ 11 Figure 15. Index of equality of opportuni es: Poland and other countries, 2012 ............................................... 31 The importance of cogni ve skills ........................................................................................................................ 13 Figure 16. PISA 2012 score gaps by loca on and gender, Poland and comparator countries .............................. 32 Poland’s educa on system ................................................................................................................................... 16 2. Cogni ve Skills of Polish 15-year-old Students ................................................................................................. 19 Tables Snapshot of Poland’s performance in PISA........................................................................................................... 20 Table 1: Three waves of reform in Poland’s general educa on system ................................................................ 23 Performance and equity ....................................................................................................................................... 26 Table A1: Percent of popula on aged 15+ by highest level of schooling a ained and average years of schooling in Poland, 1990-2010 ....................................................................................................................... 40 3. Policy Implica ons: Remaining Challenges in the Polish Educa on System ..................................................... 33 Addressing performance gaps in upper-secondary educa on ............................................................................. 34 Improving problem-solving skills .......................................................................................................................... 34 Promo ng equity.................................................................................................................................................. 35 References ............................................................................................................................................................ 37 Annex ................................................................................................................................................................... 37 Boxes Box 1: Reforms to the Polish general educa on system since the 1990s ............................................................. 18 Box 2: Digging deeper: Performance in mathema cs .......................................................................................... 26 Box 3: PISA’s Index of Economic, Social, and Cultural Status ................................................................................ 27 Figures Figure 1. Poland’s income convergence, 1995 - 2013: A sizeable catch-up but s ll a long way to go .................. 12 Figure 2. Three dimensions of skills ..................................................................................................................... 14 Figure 3. A growing intensity of use of non-rou ne cogni ve and interpersonal skills in Poland ........................ 15 Figure 4. The Polish educa on system before and a er the 1999 reform ........................................................... 17 Figure 5. Poland’s PISA 2012 scores were above OECD averages and most neighboring countries ..................... 20 Figure 6. Poland’s PISA performance by discipline, 2000-12 ................................................................................ 21 Figure 7. Distribu on of students by proficiency level in math: (a) Poland’s progress in 2000-2012; (b) Poland and comparators in 2012.......................................................................................................................... 22 Figure 8. PISA scores in mathema cs by public expenditures per student, Poland and other PISA countries .......................................................................................................................... 23 Figure 9. Problem-solving scores and comparison with mathema cs scores (PISA 2012) ................................... 24 Figure 10. Poland’s PISA 2012 performance on mathema cs subscales compared to the average mathema cs performance...................................................................................................................... 25 Acknowledgments This report was prepared by a World Bank team consis ng of Chris an Bodewig, Lucas Gortazar, Ka a Herrera Sosa, Daniel Kutner, Jeremie Amoroso and Mar n Moreno under the overall guidance of Mamta Murthi, Country Director, Central Europe and the Bal cs, Marina Wes, Country Manager for Poland and Cris an Aedo, Educa on Global Prac ce Manager. The report benefited from comments from peer reviewer Harry Patrinos and from Zbigniew Sawiński, Michał Sitek and Jerzy Wiśniewski. Marc De Francis edited the report. Abbrevia ons and Acronyms ESCS Economic, Social, and Cultural Status Executive ECA ECE EU GDP OECD Europe and Central Asia Early childhood educa on European Union Gross domes c product Organisa on for Economic Co-opera on and Development Summary OLS Ordinary least squares PIAAC Program for the Interna onal Assessment of Adult Competencies PIRLS Progress in Interna onal Reading Literacy Study PISA Programme for Interna onal Student Assessment RIF Re-centered influence func ons TIMSS Trends in Interna onal Mathema cs and Science Study UN United Na ons UNESCO United Na ons Educa onal, Scien fic and Cultural Organiza on VET Voca onal educa on and training page 8 page 9 Executive Summary 15-year-olds prior to the 1999 reform persist today in upper secondary educa on, where the performance of Facing the prospects of rapid demographic aging and decline over the coming decades, Poland needs a highly students in voca onal upper-secondary schools trails that of their peers in general educa on. Moreover, Poland’s skilled workforce to help generate the produc vity growth that it needs to fuel con nued convergence of its living performance in problem solving in the 2012 PISA was well below the OECD average. Lastly, equity remains an issue standards with those of its West European neighbors. in need of further a en on: The difference in mathema cs performance between the top and bo om quin les are the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling – a wider gap than the OECD average and much wider Skilling up the workforce starts with equipping youth with the right cogni ve and socio-emo onal founda on than in other top-performing countries such as Japan and Korea. While Poland’s school system today is not very skills. Interna onal research has iden fied three dimensions of skills that ma er for good employment outcomes stra fied according to the socioeconomic background of its students, socioeconomic background s ll ma ers for and economic growth: cogni ve skills, such as literacy, numeracy, and crea ve and cri cal thinking or problem- performance. solving; socio-emo onal skills and behavioral traits, such as conscien ousness, grit, and openness to experience; and job- or occupa on-specific technical skills, such as the ability to work as an engineer. Cogni ve and socio- emo onal skill forma on starts early in a person’s life. Good cogni ve and socio-emo onal skills provide a necessary founda on for the subsequent acquisi on of technical skills. Put differently, poor literacy and numeracy skills severely undermine a person’s ability to benefit from further training and lifelong learning. An impressive transforma on in cogni ve skills has occurred among youth in Poland. This report focuses on cogni ve skills. It examines results for Poland from the Program for Interna onal Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses the mathema cs, reading, and science competencies of 15-year-olds. The findings point to an impressive transforma on in the cogni ve skill set of the youth in Poland between 2000 and 2012. Poland raised its scores in mathema cs, reading, and science to the equivalent of what students would have learned in one addi onal year of schooling. Its PISA scores are now above the OECD average and at the same levels as in countries such as Finland and Germany. Aggregate gains in quality have gone hand in hand with improvements in educa onal equity. Poland has seen an increase in the propor on of its students at the top performance level, and the share of its students who are poor performers has declined. Students from poor and well-off socioeconomic backgrounds alike saw performance improvements. All this has been achieved with stable levels of educa on spending, at about 5 percent of GDP and below the OECD average. The overall effects of reform on Poland’s PISA scores has been posi ve, although isola ng the precise impact of each reform element is difficult. Given the many educa on (and non-educa on) reforms in Poland since the early 1990s, it is difficult to isolate the effects of each element of reform on Poland’s PISA results. The overall effects are clearly posi ve. In addi on to changes in the accountability arrangements with a strengthening of the role of local governments and the introduc on of standardized examina ons, the Polish authori es introduced a change to the structure of the educa on system in 1999, which delayed selec on between general and voca onal tracks and effec vely added one year of exposure to general curriculum content. Taking effect a er the first PISA test in 2000, when Poland performed rela vely poorly, this change has been rigorously evaluated and shown to have had a significant posi ve effect on performance. Despite the many successes, some challenges remain, par cularly regarding problem-solving skills and equity in achievement. There is evidence from PISA assessments replicated for older students in upper-secondary educa on in 2006, 2009 and 2012 that performance gaps previously found between voca onal and general schools for page 11 Chapter 1 Why Skills Matter for Poland page 12 page 13 1. Why Skills Matter for Poland But what about skills? This report places a spotlight on the next genera on and examines whether Poland’s How can Poland achieve convergence in living standards with its Western European neighbors when its youth are leaving the compulsory educa on system with the right set of skills needed for further educa on and popula on is aging and shrinking? Poland’s income growth over the last two decades has been remarkable, but training and for produc ve employment. It finds that Poland has made major strides in raising the skills of the next the country s ll has a long way to go to catch up with the living standards of its EU15 neighbors. In 1995, Poland’s genera on and to prepare them for the demands of a growing and changing economy. GDP per capita stood at about 37 percent of the EU15 average, and by 2013 it had risen to 66 percent (Figure 1). Looking ahead, Poland’s long-term economic growth prospects are put at risk by demographic change: According The importance of cognitive skills to United Na ons projec ons, the working-age (ages 15 to 64) share of the popula on is expected to fall from 69.5 Interna onal evidence shows how much the skills of a country’s workforce ma er for economic growth percent in 2015 to 57 percent by 2050. In contrast, the share of the popula on 65 and above will increase from and shared prosperity. Interna onal evidence suggests that quality of educa on is one of the most important 15.3 percent in 2015 to 29 percent by 2050.1 With fewer workers and more old-age dependents, labor produc vity determinants of long-term economic growth.2 Recent research (Hanushek and Woessmann, 2007 and 2012), improvements will be key to sustained economic growth. drawing on student assessment surveys from 1960 onward, es mates that an improvement of 50 points in scores on the Organisa on for Economic Co-opera on and Development’s (OECD’s) Program for Interna onal Student Figure 1. Poland’s income convergence, 1995 - 2013: A sizeable catch-up but s ll a long way to go Assessment (PISA) would imply an increase of 1 percentage point in the annual growth rate of GDP per capita.3 Both the share of students achieving basic literacy and the share of top-performing students ma er for growth (Hanushek and Woessmann, 2007; OECD, 2010). A recent OECD (2015) report presents economic returns to universal basic skills, defined as all students achieving level 1 skills (420 points) in PISA. While low-income countries with lagging educa on systems stand to gain the most, advanced middle- and high-income countries can expect a significant boost to long-run economic growth simply by making their educa on systems deliver be er for the weakest students: The report finds that on average, high-income countries could gain a 3.5 percent higher discounted average GDP over the next 80 years if they were to ensure that all students achieved basic skills (as defined above). As will be presented in this report, a declining yet s ll significant share of Polish 15-year-olds currently perform poorly in PISA. Ensuring universal basic skills in Poland could add 2 percent discounted future GDP. Ensuring basic cogni ve skills for all also helps to make growth inclusive. Beyond aggregate economic growth, educa on improves the living standards of individuals. With more educa on people are able to acquire more and higher-order skills, making them more produc ve and employable and extending their labor market par cipa on over their life me. That in turn leads to higher earnings and be er quality of life.4 Educa on is an engine of social mobility: Human capital is a key asset in income genera on and hence cri cal to reducing poverty and increasing Source: World Bank Staff es mates using Eurostat data. shared prosperity (Bussolo and Lopez-Calva, 2014). Making the best use of human capital is at the heart of policies that can sustain increases in living standards. “Skills” can be differen ated along separate though mutually reinforcing dimensions: cogni ve, socio-emo onal, Mi ga ng the risk to economic growth from popula on aging and decline involves expanding the number of workers
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