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2015: The Year of Excellence

Education policymakers dream about excellence: better teachers, better learners, better resources will almost magically end years of turmoil: high youth unemployment, increasing school dropouts, burnt out teachers…

How do you measure excellence? According to PISA standards, excellence can only be reached through equity and by giving every student the chance to succeed. We may all agree that citizens should be “equipped with the skills necessary to achieve their full potential”: But what is a necessary skill? This naive question yields many ambiguous answers.

In Spain, the new educative law – LOMCE – will strengthen excellence by separating bad students from good ones earlier on. The former will be equipped with “level 1” basic competences, while the latter will access higher education or vocational training. A new concept of equity indeed! France is thinking of abolishing grades and creating a new framework for the evaluation of competences that could enable students to escape the tyranny of academic excellence and see the system recognize their “real” strengths. Would parents accept it? All over the world, universities are competing to attract the best students in the class, strengthening elites and making college a dream for the vast majority.

2014 has shown another road towards excellence through personalized teaching, adaptive learning, and continuous evaluation: a new jargon has been developed to tell a simple truth: every student has a special talent and deserves attention.

Excellence is no longer a dream. Is this because technology makes it attainable for everyone? This is at least the conviction of our Open Education Challenge startups and of all Edtech innovators worldwide. But technology is still very unequally distributed.

A Christmas fairy tale brings us back to the miracle and simplicity of excellence: The best literature student in the best class of the best French high school is a girl with an autism spectrum disorder.

Just imagine a system that would have denied this girl access to an ordinary school and the right to demonstrate her talent. It just happened in Spain

How integrative can a school be? Answering this question may lead to excellence for all.

Spirit of achievement, loving parents and responsive teachers will make 2015 the Year of Excellence.