How Do Top-performing East Asian Countries Support Low-Performing Students and Schools?

Mar 3, 2016 11:00:00 AM Chandni Trivedi Education Trends

Providing early diagnosis and additional support for struggling students

  • Singapore provides learning support for students who do not have the basic numeracy skills and knowledge needed to access the mathematics curriculum at school (“Learning Support for Maths” [LSM]).
  • LSM teachers are provided as additional teachers to each school, based on need, and they receive additional training and teaching resources.
  • In 2013, Singapore expanded the scope of this program to cover students in second grade as well so that students could have more continuous support.
  • The system is now considering providing this support for all students up to secondary 4 level, which corresponds to 15-16 year-old students.

Holding high expectations for all students

  • In Japan, teachers must work with students who have diverse needs and abilities to achieve common educational goals. One of teachers’ most important responsibilities is to ensure that all students keep up with the curriculum.
  • Teachers are expected to identify students who are falling behind the rest of the class, and to give them extra support during regular school hours or, if necessary, after school.
  • Japan’s national curriculum guideline is designed as a minimum standard of skills, and every student is expected to master its content.

Providing support for migrant/ immigrant students

  • Because Hong Kong has a large number of migrants from mainland China, system leaders launched the Fulltime Initiation Program, a six-month program offered to students before they enter mainstream schools. The program helps children to adjust to local schools and society.
  • Induction Program is a 60-hour program run by non-governmental organizations that is offered to migrant and immigrant children who are already enrolled in mainstream schools. It helps students adjust to their new community and tackle learning difficulties.
  • Hong Kong-China also provides grants to schools that can be used to provide supplementary lessons and extracurricular activities or to organize orientations for immigrant students.

Connecting and networking disadvantaged schools

  • Shanghai-China, where socio-economic disparities among schools are large, has been trying to connect rural schools to good urban schools through the Shanghai Rural Compulsory Education Management Program.
  • Japan, where 15% of elementary and junior high schools are located in rural areas, established the Research Network for Education in Rural Areas to overcome challenges faced by rural teachers. Through this program, participating schools and teachers exchange information and conduct research on relevant issues, such as how to teach more than one grade in the same classroom, how to provide students an opportunity to interact with the people outside their communities and how to manage small-scale schools with limited numbers of teachers and staff.

Working with communities to help students who need support

  • The Study Support Volunteer Project in Japan subsidizes voluntary activities, mostly undertaken by university students. This project focuses on studying at home, including homework, and offers advice on school choice for children from single-parent families.
  • Japan’s School Support Regional Headquarters Project invites local people to help low-performing students, including by providing after-school remedial lessons, in consultation with schools.

SourceOECD 2016 Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed