With the Olympics dovetailing nicely with August’s typical back-to-school frenzy, we thought it would be a good time to see how the old “U-S-A” stacks up against the rest of the world in the gold-medal competition of educational spending and results. On first blush, the competition looks like it’s going our way. Nationally, the United States spends an average of $10,995 per pupil, which is about $2,800 more than the average of other industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation.
But this is a competition that can’t be bought. While the United States shows better than average results (again, compared to OECD countries) in reading, it’s turning in slightly worse than average results for math and science. The countries of South Korea and Japan, both of which spend significantly less per pupil ($6,700 and $8,300, respectively), outperform U.S. students in all three categories.
When Education Week compared the United States to all of the world’s educational system, our K-12 achievement grade was a dismal C-, at 69.7 percent. Digging deeper, per-pupil spending in Colorado is less than the national average by nearly $2,000 … does that mean that, like South Korea and Japan, we’re posting better results than the national average? Actually yes, but it’s not much to celebrate. Colorado’s grade for K-12 achievement is barely better at a straight C, 73.8 percent.
Sources: Education Next, The Atlantic, FaceTheFactsUSA.org (part of George Washington University), OECD, U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week