– New international data shows US not making any
Recent data from “Education at a Glance 2009”, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), paints a disturbing picture about educational progress in the United States.
This OECD graph shows the comparative education levels of 55 to 64 year-olds (solid red squares) versus 25 to 34 year olds (the triangles) in OECD countries.
What sticks out right away is that while many countries have dramatic differences in the education levels of their older and younger populations, that isn’t the case in the United States. In fact, the chance that older and younger US citizens have completed an appreciable part of secondary education (not necessarily all the way to a high school diploma) is exactly the same.
Compare that to what is going on in Korea. Less than half of that nation’s older citizens have some secondary schooling, but that nation’s younger adults almost universally have some secondary education – a higher percentage, in fact, than we have in the United States.
Things look even worse when we examine the college picture.
This next graph was actually developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from OECD data.
It shows that the postsecondary attainment between younger and older adults in the United States looks exactly like the first graph – flat. We see no improvement in the level of education in our younger adults. That has allowed a number of other countries to catch up to, and surpass us, for college educational levels.
Bottom line, other nations have figured out that education really does matter. They are moving out on that knowledge. Meanwhile, US complacency will soon see one of our major economic advantages erased as more countries like Korea start to surpass us in educational attainment.
Tip of the hat to the Prichard Blog, which made me aware of the OECD-based graph from Gates (though not the information in the first graph).