The education system in Chile has expanded considerably in recent years. Enrolment in pre-primary education has increased considerably and universal access has been virtually reached in lower secondary education. There has also been good progress in retaining students within the school system. However, in upper secondary education, improvements in completion and retention rates have not been sustained in the recent past and about 20% of a cohort does not reach the final year of upper secondary education. In addition, student achievement in international assessments, while at the top within Latin America, remains below the OECD average. However, trend analyses of PISA results have shown some statistical significant improvement in reading literacy while performance in mathematics and science has remained fairly stable. A major concern is the significant proportion of students under-performing in secondary education.
The increasing recognition of equity challenges in education has led Chile to introduce a range of initiatives to channel extra resources to schools serving vulnerable groups. However, there remain marked educational inequities based on students’ socio-economic status. Chile had the fifth strongest association between socio-economic status and student performance among all PISA (OECD Programme for International Student Assessment) 2015 participating countries. There are large differences in students’ achievement, depending on school type, school location and school resources. These inequities are reflected in students’ educational attainment. For example, the average number of years in education differs considerably according to the individual’s socioeconomic background and area of residence.
The following policy priorities were identified to improve the effectiveness of resource
use in the Chilean school system:
- Consolidate the financing of school education and secure resources for reform implementation
- Advance equity objectives through improved targeting of resources for vulnerable student groups
- Sustain efforts to strengthen school leadership and ensure school evaluation focuses on school improvement
- Secure the reform of teacher policy is closely linked to the improvement of teaching practice