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Global competitiveness fact sheet

Employment

  • 54.7 million U.S. jobs will open over the next decade.
  • 29.4 million (54%) will require at least some college.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Projections 2004-2014

Adults (age 25-64) in the U.S. without a high school credential earn 65 cents for every dollar earned by a high school graduate. This earnings gap was the greatest among all OECD countries. In addition, those who lack a high school credential are more likely to earn below median wages in the United States than in any other country except Denmark, and they are more likely to be unemployed.

OECD Education at a Glance, 2006

Education Attainment

According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), other countries have been rapidly improving their high school and college completion rates, while U.S. rates remain relatively stable. Because of this, the U.S. relative standing is falling.

College

39 percent of U.S. adults (age 25-64) had an associate’s degree or higher in 2003.

  • U.S. older adults (age 35-64) are 2nd in the world.
  • U.S. younger adults (age 25-34) are 7th in the world.

Ranking based on 30 OECD countries in 2003 from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2006

1.4 million BA/BS degrees were awarded in the U.S., 2003-04

  • 230,500 (16 percent) were STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degrees.
  • The proportion of STEM degrees has changed little over the last 35 years.

NCES Digest of Education Statistics, 2005

College-going

55.7 percent of new high school graduates enroll in college within one year

Tom Mortenson, Postsecondary Education Opportunity, 2004 data

High school

88 percent of U.S. adults (age 25-64) had a high school credential in 2004.

  • U.S. older adults (age 55-64) are 1st in the world.
  • U.S. younger adults (age 25-34) are 10th in the world.

Ranking based on 30 OECD countries in 2004 from OECD Education at a Glance, 2006

Preparation

Students with a rigorous core curriculum in high school are more likely to succeed in college and in non-college jobs paying decent wages (for example, plumbers, electricians).

Adelman, 1999; College Board, 2003; ACT, Inc., 2006

Work readiness by course-taking

High school students who take ACT's recommended core curriculum in high school (four years of English and three years each of math, science, and social studies) are more likely to be ready for workforce training programs: 77 percent of students with core were work ready vs. 47 percent of students without.  

College readiness by course-taking

College freshmen who have taken ACT's recommended high school core curriculum (four years of English and three years each of math, science, and social studies) are less likely to require remediation: 10 percent who took the core curriculum required remediation in English vs. 16 percent who did not take it; 15 percent who took the core curriculum required remediation in math vs. 25 percent who did not take it. 

ACT, Inc. Benefits of a High School Core Curriculum, 2006

 

 

 

 

Achievement

  • American kids are good readers in comparison to many of their peers across the globe. Only three countries significantly outscored the U.S. at the elementary and high school levels. U.S. 4th graders scored significantly above the international average (PIRLS, 2001), while our 15-year-olds scored slightly above the average (PISA, 2000).
  • U.S. math performance is mediocre. American 4th graders performed above the international average but were significantly outdone by young math students in 11 of 25 nations (TIMSS, 2003). U.S. 8th graders performed about the same (TIMSS, 2003). High schoolers performed below the international average. (PISA, 2003).
  • U.S. science performance is a study of contrasts. On one hand, both American 4th and 8th graders scored above the international average (TIMSS, 2003). On the other, high school students were significantly outscored in science by their peers in 18 of the 38 participating countries with a performance that was below the international average (PISA, 2003).


This summary is based on a document written by Jim Hull, policy analyst, Center for Public Education.

Posted: February 14, 2007

©2007 Center for Public Education

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