Teachers in the United States spend more hours at work than their counterparts in 29 other countries, but are among the lowest paid, according to an annual survey comparing the education systems in some of the world’s leading economies.
The report, released Sept. 18 by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, says that primary-level teachers teach an average of 1,080 hours each year in the United States—well above the average of 803 hours for all countries surveyed.
The average salary of just over $40,000 for a U.S. primary teacher with 15 years of experience ranked the United States 12th among the countries surveyed. In Luxembourg, the average salary for a teacher with similar experience was $88,000 in U.S. dollars. In Hungary, it was $16,000.
Although the average U.S. teacher salary is above the OECD average of $37,603, the report points out that relative to the gross domestic product, “per capita teachers’ pay in the United States is among the lowest in OECD countries.”
The report ranked the United States 10th for its efforts to control class sizes, with 23.1 students per classroom at the primary level, higher than the OECD average of 21.5.
The United States also appeared to lag behind on participation in preschool education. The report found that while spending on U.S. prekindergarten students is among the highest of all OECD countries, the United States has one of the lowest participation rates for children younger than 5. In 2005, the rate of participation for 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States was 50 percent, compared with the OECD average of 68.5 percent.
The report includes a host of other education statistics on factors such as education spending, graduation rates, higher education, and student attitudes about mathematics.
For instance, in the United States, 87 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 34 had completed high school, the report said, while in Mexico, only 24 percent of the population in that age group had completed high school.
A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2007 edition of Education Week