In comparison to other industrialized countries, the United States does not invest as much in human capital. As a result, it is losing its competitive advantage. For example, math skills among American kids have stayed unchanged for decades.
This implies that it is lagging behind several other countries, including Japan, Poland, and Ireland, which have made significant progress. In fact, test scores in the United States are currently lower than the global average.
Comparison of Exam Results
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administers the Program for International Student Assessment, which examines 15-year-old pupils all across the world (OECD). When the test was last conducted in 2018, the United States ranked 11th out of 79 countries in science. It fared even worse in math, coming in 30th place.
In math, the United States received a score of 478, which was lower than the OECD average of 489. That’s significantly below the top five, which were all from Asia: Singapore (569), Macao (555), Hong Kong (551), Taiwan (531), and Japan (527). Because only four provinces participated, China was not included in this list.
In science, the US received a score of 502, which was higher than the OECD average of 489. Singapore came in first with a score of 551, followed by Macao with a score of 544, Estonia with a score of 530, Japan with a score of 529, and Finland with a score of 522.
When looking at the results of the United States over the years, it’s evident that the scores have remained consistent. While there are no indicators of decline, there is also no evidence of improvement. In fact, there has been no discernible change in math or science performance among American children since 2003.
Education’s Economic Impact
These poor scores suggest that American students may not be as prepared as international workers for high-paying computer and engineering careers. While Silicon Valley is America’s high-tech innovation center, the cultural variety of its foreign-born software engineers is one reason for its success.
Many businesses just outsource their technical jobs to other countries. The end outcome is the same: fewer high-paying jobs are available to Americans because they may not be eligible.
Eric A. Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, projected that if our children’s math and science skills were as excellent as the rest of the world’s, the US economy would expand 4.5 percent in the next 20 years.
Many Americans would be surprised by this claim, though, because they think that our students already have some of the best skills in the world.
Reality vs. Perception
Despite decades of low test results, some Americans seem unconcerned about the quality of education in the United States. In a 2008 Associated Press poll, nearly half of those who responded said that American pupils’ achievement test scores were on par with or better than those of youngsters in other industrialized countries. However, 90% of them agreed that education contributes to economic progress.
In a survey of pupils’ math skills in 30 industrialized countries, the United States ranks towards the bottom. Many Americans are in denial rather than accepting and facing the truth. In reality, while one-third of respondents thought their schools were great, only one-sixth thought the same of any other schools. The poorest states have the lowest educational scores. This loop results in systemic disparities.
Impact on the United States’ Competitiveness
The United States is ranked 10th in the IMD World Competitiveness Center’s 2020 Competitiveness Report. After taking first place in 2018, the United States slid to third place in 2019. The United States’ seven-point drop to tenth place in 2020 is by far the lowest it has ever been in the annual ranking system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does the United States invest in education?
According to the most recent data on K-12 spending, the United States spends $762 billion per year on public school students or $14,891 per student.
In the United States, which state has the best educational system?
Several sources publish K-12 education rankings, but they use different approaches to arrive at their conclusions. Although the National Center for Education Statistics does not rate the states, Education Week gives each one a letter grade ranging from A to F based on a variety of characteristics. No state has received an A, and only Massachusetts and New Jersey have received a B.
How does the United States’ educational system fare when it comes to reading?
The United States outperforms the rest of the world in reading, with an OECD average score of 505, up 4% from 2009.