Is the U.S. losing out on science and math education?
The FT article in the previous post is based on the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2005. Here’s a link to the OECD’s press release. The data on Korea’s educational progress is truly astounding: In recent years, some countries have shown spectacular improvements in schooling performance. In Korea, for example, a striking 97%, of people ...
The FT article in the previous post is based on the OECD's Education at a Glance 2005. Here's a link to the OECD's press release. The data on Korea's educational progress is truly astounding:
The FT article in the previous post is based on the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2005. Here’s a link to the OECD’s press release. The data on Korea’s educational progress is truly astounding:
In recent years, some countries have shown spectacular improvements in schooling performance. In Korea, for example, a striking 97%, of people born in the 1970s have completed upper secondary education, putting Korea in top place for this age group ahead of Norway with 95% and Japan and the Slovak Republic with 94%. By comparison, only 32% of Koreans born in the 1940s have upper secondary qualifications.
And what about the U.S.? We’re constantly fretting about the decline in our educational system — does the OECD data support this anxiety? Yes and no. If you rifle through the executive summary of Education at a Glance, you come away with three observations about the U.S. performance:
1) In science and math, the U.S. is ahead of only the really poor OECD countries — Turkey, Mexico, etc. So yes, there is reason to worry. 2) The poor performance is not because of a downward trend — in fact, if you look at chart A7.1 (“Differences in mean performance of eighth-grade students from 1995 to 2003”), you discover an interesting fact: the United States showed the greatest improvement in science and math scores of the sample — including Korea. 3) The poor performance isn’t because of a dearth of funds — table B1.1 shows that, Switzerland excepted, the United States spends the most amount of money per student in the OECD. You get a similar result if the metric is education spending as a percentage of GDP. Indeed, the OECD comments:
Lower expenditure cannot automatically be equated with a lower quality of educational services. Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and New-Zealand, which have moderate expenditure on education per student at the primary and lower secondary levels, are among the OECD countries with the highest levels of performance by 15-year-old students in mathematics.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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