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|This article was originally published as the Summary of the Statistical Analysis Report of the same name. Data sources, outlined at the end of this article, include collections and assessments of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).|
This report is designed to describe how the U.S. education system compares with the education systems in the Group of Eight, or G8, countries. These countries, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are among the world's most economically developed. Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G8 Countries: 2004 draws on the most current information about education from the Indicators of National Education Systems (INES) project at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the international assessments conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Started in 2002, this report is published on a biennial basis. The main findings of this report are highlighted below. The highlights are organized around the four major sections of the report: the context of education, preprimary and primary education, secondary education, and higher education. All indicators from this report and the 2002 G8 report are online at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/international/intlindicators.
Context of Education
Size and growth rate of school-age population
In 2003, the United States and the Russian Federation had the highest proportion of 5- to 29-year-olds, relative to their total populations, as compared to the other G8 countries. In the past 10 years (1993-2003), the population growth rate for youth ages 5 to 19 was higher in the United States than in any other G8 country.
Participation in formal schooling
In 2001, all of the G8 countries, except the Russian Federation, had close to universal participation in formal education for youth ages 5 to 14. Compulsory education ends at age 18 in Germany; age 17 in the United States; age 16 in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom; and age 15 in Italy, Japan, and the Russian Federation. Participation in formal education tends to be high until the end of compulsory education for all the countries, but in Germany and the United Kingdom, enrollment rates drop below 90 percent before the age at which compulsory education ends (figure A).
Funding and expenditures
In 2000, the United States ranked the highest among the six G8 countries with data in terms of expenditure per student at both the combined primary and secondary level as well as for higher education.
In 2000, public funding for higher education was more centralized than funding for primary and secondary education in all of the G8 countries. However, in some G8 countries, including the United States, much of the funding for higher education came from regional sources, including states.
Figure A. Range of ages at which over 90 percent of the population is enrolled in formal education, and ending age of compulsory education, by country: 2001
2The ending age of compulsory education in the United States varies across states, ranging from 16 to 18. The national figure of age 17 is calculated as a weighted average (weighting is based on the population of states) of the ending age of compulsory education for all the states. The modal age for the end of compulsory education in the United States is 16. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, October 2001. Available: http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/school/cps2001/tab02.xls.)
NOTE: Reference year is 2001 for population and enrollment data in all countries; however, reference dates may differ within 2001. Ending age of compulsory education is the age at which compulsory schooling ends. For example, an ending age of 18 indicates that all students under 18 are legally obliged to participate in education. The "age range at which over 90 percent are enrolled" refers to the full range of ages at which enrollment reaches this level. Formal education enrollment figures for preprimary include only children who attended center-based programs and exclude children in home-based early childhood education.
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).(2003). Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2003, table C1.2. (Originally published as figure 2 on p. 15 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)
Education and the labor force
In 2001, labor force participation rates increased with educational attainment for adults in the United States and the other G8 countries reporting data. Women participated in the labor force at a lower rate than men in each of the G8 countries reporting data for all education levels examined.
The earnings premium associated with higher education compared to upper secondary education for adults ages 25 to 64 was higher in the United States than in the other five G8 countries presented (figure B).
Figure B. Relative average earnings of adults ages 25 to 64 who completed less than upper secondary education or higher education, compared with those with an upper secondary education, by country: Various years, 1998-2001
NOTE: Education levels are defined according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). Upper secondary refers to ISCED level 3. Higher education refers to ISCED level 5A (academic higher education-first stage). For more information on ISCED levels, see the appendix in the full report. Data reported in 1999 for Canada and France, 2000 for Germany, 1998 for Italy, and 2001 for the United Kingdom and the United States. Relative earnings percentages are derived from the indexed relative earnings values reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2003). Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2003, table A.14.1. (Originally published as figure 6 on p. 23 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)
Preprimary and Primary Education
Learning in early childhood
Sixty-four percent of U.S. children ages 3 to 5 were enrolled in center-based preprimary and primary education in 2001, a rate that was lower than the rates of all G8 countries reporting data except Canada. Eighty-nine percent of 5-year-olds in the United States were enrolled in public or private preprimary programs, while 7 percent were enrolled in primary schooling.
Only fourth-graders from England scored higher than their U.S. counterparts among all the G8 countries on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2001 combined reading literacy scale.
In the United States and all the other countries presented, fourth-graders who reported having 0-10 books in the home had lower average reading achievement than did fourth-graders who reported having more books.
To examine fourth-graders' views on reading for enjoyment, PIRLS 2001 created an index of Students' Attitudes Toward Reading (SATR). All of the participating G8 countries, with the exception of England, had greater percentages of fourth-graders with higher SATR scores than the United States.
Primary school teachers
In 2001, the most common strategies employed by U.S. fourth-grade teachers to help a student who was falling behind in reading were to work individually with the student and have other students help the student. These were also some of the most common strategies used in the majority of the other participating G8 countries.
In the United States in 2001, public primary school teachers with minimum qualifications were paid an average starting salary of $28,681, which was the second highest of all G8 countries reporting data.
Secondary school enrollment
A large majority of 16- and 17-year-olds in the countries presented were enrolled in secondary education in 2001. Eighty-eight percent of 16-year-olds and 75 percent of 17-year-olds were enrolled in secondary education in the United States. Over 90 percent of 17-year-olds were enrolled in secondary education in Canada, Germany, and Japan.
According to PISA 2000, reading literacy scores among 15-year-olds were higher for females than for males in all of the G8 countries, including the United States.
In the United States, students achieving at the lowest levels on the PISA 2000 reading scale reported lower levels of engagement in reading than their peers who achieved at the highest level. This pattern was found in other G8 countries as well (figure C).
Compared to students in most other G8 countries, U.S. 14-year-olds placed more trust in national government and more importance on adult citizenship activities in 1999. They were less affirming, however, of the role of government in the social and economic spheres than 14-year-olds in most other G8 countries.
Home language and reading proficiency
In the United States, 15-year-olds whose home language differed from the language of instruction were overrepresented at the lowest levels of reading literacy.
In the United States in 2000, more 15-year-olds at the lowest level of reading literacy achievement reported attending remedial language courses outside of school than 15-year-olds in the overall population.
Secondary school teachers
In 2001, public upper secondary teachers with the minimum qualifications in the United States earned the second-highest starting salary on average ($28,806) of the countries presented.
Primary and secondary school teachers in the United States also taught more hours per year than teachers in the other G8 countries reporting data in 2001.
Figure C. Average index scores of 15-year-old students' sense of engagement in reading, by reading proficiency level and country: 2000
NOTE: The engagement in reading index was constructed in such a way that the mean index score of the 27 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries that participated in PISA 2000 was set to zero. A negative index value implies a lower than average engagement in reading, while a positive index value suggests a higher than average engagement in reading. PISA 2000 measured students' engagement in reading by asking for their level of agreement (strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree) with the following statements: I read only if I have to (reverse coded); reading is one of my favorite hobbies; I like talking about books with people; I find it hard to finish books (reverse coded); I feel happy if I receive a book as a present; for me, reading is a waste of time (reverse coding); I enjoy going to a bookstore or a library; I read only to get information that I need (reverse coded); and I cannot sit still and read for more than a few minutes (reverse coded). In order to reach a particular proficiency level, a student must have been able to answer correctly a majority of items at that level. Students scoring below 335 were classified as below level 1, students scoring 335 to 407 were at level 1, and students scoring 626 and above were classified at level 5. The overall percentage refers to the percentage of the total 15-year-old student population.
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), PISA 2000. (Originally published as figure 17 on p. 49 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)
Enrollment in higher education
Almost one-quarter of U.S. 18- to 29-year-olds were enrolled in higher education in 2001, the highest enrollment rate among the G8 countries presented. Females had a higher enrollment rate than males in all the countries except Germany.
Fields of study
In the United States in 2001, 44 percent of first-university degrees were awarded in the social sciences, business, and law. Seventeen percent were awarded in humanities and arts, and 11 percent were awarded in science. Seven percent of first-university degrees were awarded in the general field of engineering, manufacturing, and construction (figure D).
Foreign students in higher education
The number of foreign students enrolled in higher education in the United States was greater than the numbers in any of the other G8 countries, although as a percentage of all students in the country it was not among the highest.
2The United Kingdom includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
3Includes social and behavioral sciences (ISC 31), journalism and information (ISC 32), business and administration (ISC 34), and law (ISC 38).
4Includes arts (ISC 21) and humanities (ISC 22).
5Includes life sciences (ISC 42), physical sciences (ISC 44), mathematics and statistics (ISC 46), and computing (ISC 48).
6Includes engineering and engineering trades (ISC 52), manufacturing and processing (ISC 54), and architecture and building (ISC 58).
7Includes agriculture, forestry, and fishery (ISC 62); veterinary (ISC 64); health and welfare (ISC 72); and services and degrees not known or unspecified.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. The fields of education shown follow the 1997 revision of the International Standard Classification of Education Major Field of Study (ISCED MFS) (UNESCO 1997). Programs that prepare students for advanced research and highly qualified professions are classified as first-university degree programs, which corresponds to ISCED level 5A. First-university degrees vary in duration in different countries in different programs of study. In the United States, the first-university degree corresponds to a bachelor's degree; it excludes associate's degrees. For more information on ISCED levels, see the appendix in the full report.
SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Education Database, September 30, 2003. (Originally published as figure 22 on p. 61 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)