Although a recent study indicates that the United States spends more on student’s education than other developed nations, a report by Pearson only ranks the U.S. 14th in the world for educational performance.
Pearson’s The Learning Curve 2014 report uses a “global index” to measure the educational rankings of 39 countries. This global index was gathered by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The ranking of the countries is based on cognitive skills and outcome of students, which balances a number of factors such as test scores, school attendance, teacher salaries and employment rates.
The study found that the countries that had the best educational performance focused more on basic skill development than other countries. The top three countries, the study found, were South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
The results of the study also indicate that countries that spend the most on education do not necessarily have the highest educational rankings.
In 2010, the U.S. spent over $11,000 on each elementary student in the public school system and over $12,000 on each high school student. While the U.S. moved up since the last rankings — when it was ranked 17th in 2012 — based on the amount of spending on education, a ranking of 14th out of 39 countries is lower than would be expected.
The U.S.’s education ranking was negatively affected by its low college completion rate of 50 percent. This college graduation rate is 20th in the world.
The leading countries in the study had graduation rates of up to 90 percent.
In addition, the report indicated that the countries with the best educational performance have a “culture of accountability.” This “culture” means that teachers, students and parents all play a key part in education and holding students accountable for completion of work. The leading countries also tend to value teachers more than in lower ranked countries.
Although the U.S. allocates a large amount of spending toward education, teachers are not compensated well compared to the compensation they receive in other countries. In the nations where teachers’ salaries were tracked between 2000 and 2011, salaries increased between 17 percent and 20 percent. In contrast, in the U.S., teachers’ salaries increased by only three percent in this time period.
By putting more of the educational spending on encouraging college completion and higher teachers salaries, causing better quality teachers to be attracted to the teaching profession, the U.S. could potentially rise in the global education rankings by 2016.
— Lily Tyson