With the emergence and growth of the global economy, policymakers and educators have turned to international comparisons to assess how well national systems of education are performing. These comparisons shed light on a host of policy issues, from access to education to equity of resources devoted to educational achievement. They provide policymakers with the opportunity to compare different aspects of countriesí education systems, assess systemsí performances, and identify potential strategies to improve student achievement and system outputs.
Since the 1960s, the United States has participated actively in international projects that are designed to provide key information about the performance of the U.S. education system compared to the education systems of other countries. The G8 Indicator Reports, published in alternate years, draw on the most current information available from these international projects. They present a set of education indicators that describes how the U.S. education system compares with those in the Group of Eight, or G8, countries. These are the eight most industrialized countries in the world, whose representatives meet regularly to discuss economic and other policy issues: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The countries were selected for comparison because they are relatively similar to the United States in their economic development and because they are among our major economic competitors.