While the United States’ lackluster performance on global tests is well known, it’s also worth looking at how the context of U.S. education compares with those of other industrialized nations.
A report from the National Center for Education Statistics compares U.S. education with that of other G-20 nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom. It finds that:
• U.S. students tend to start school later. As of 2011, 9 in 10 students in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom had entered formal education by ages 3 and 4. The U.S. enrollment rate for 3- to 4-year-olds was 64 percent, higher than only six G-20 countries.
• American students are lukewarm about reading. Only 33 percent of U.S. girls and 20 percent of boys reported enjoying reading. Only girls in Italy and Russia and boys in England, Italy, and Saudi Arabia had lower rates of reading enjoyment.
• U.S. teachers were far more likely to say that a reading specialist was always on hand to help students with difficulties.
• The United States was the only country in which a majority of 8th graders were taught by teachers who had received math training in the previous two years in content, pedagogy, assessment, or in integrating information technology into instruction. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. 4th grade teachers participated in professional development in math content, the highest in the study.
At $11,800 per K-12 student and $25,000 per college student, the United States spends more public and private dollars on education than other countries studied, including “core” spending, such as for teachers’ salaries, and ancillary spending on items like transportation or meals.
A version of this article appeared in the January 13, 2016 edition of Education Week as Global Study Looks Beyond Test Scores