What are the characteristics of successful education reform?

A recent study examining education systems worldwide has revealed that there are universal strategies that can lead to significant and long-lasting improvements in learning outcomes. The study was conducted by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm.Read more.

While these strategies need to be adapted to specific regional contexts, they are not focused on a particular curriculum or service. Instead, they center around governance and the effective execution of reforms.

According to the report, it is crucial to provide educators with evidence-based instructional strategies, involve stakeholders, establish dedicated delivery teams, encourage innovation, and measure improvements.

“More than ever, we now understand what drives student outcomes,” said Emma Dorn, senior knowledge expert at McKinsey and coauthor of the report. She emphasized the importance for districts and states in the U.S. to recognize this and implement effective strategies.

The report also highlights that about 80% of education transformations fall short of their goals, which means that students are not receiving the intended benefits.

‘Change is Possible’

The study identifies 14 school systems worldwide that have consistently achieved significant improvements in international and regional assessments. These systems include Singapore, Peru, South Africa, London, Punjab (India), Mississippi, and the District of Columbia in the U.S.

The report suggests that if all school systems advanced at the same rate as these top performers, 350 million children could overcome “learning poverty” by 2050. This refers to the inability to read a simple text by the end of elementary school. However, overall student achievement has either stagnated or declined in the past decade, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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