Global pols will always use South Korea as the Asian model towards student achievement---they do that because South Korean education was installed by Wall Street and neo-liberalism----that is why it is so hyper-competitive, seeks to involve children in long school days tied to layers of corporate education programs costing parents much disposable income just to keep a child in the right tier of tracking. None of that is necessary---it just serves as a way to send our hundreds of billions of dollars of Federal funding for public schools completely to Wall Street.
I do not like ranking of children at all but since all this Wall Street global corporate policy data is based on ranking US children globally let's look at how they juke the results. First, the US has the greatest poverty in Western nations after Clinton/Bush/Obama so when we compare student achievement to European nations for example we see higher achievement in Europe because they have less extreme poverty and less inequity in citizens and school resources. Asian nations show higher achievement because the poor in Asia cannot access these neo-liberal schools--parents in Asia must have disposable income ergo they are more affluent and this slants Asian achievement scores. As this article states----Wall Street global corporate pols who like to use these kinds of apple/oranges comparisons heavily weight US achievement scores towards underserved children. THEY ARE CREATING THAT ACHIEVEMENT GAP TO SELL ASIAN CORPORATE NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES.
AMERICANS KNOW WHAT STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOL STRUCTURES LOOK LIKE----THE FINNISH MODEL IS THAT AMERICAN MODEL.
London Play added a new video:
Clip from "Where to Invade Next".
April 25 at 5:30pm · Here's a puzzle. Finnish children spend comparatively little time at school, don't get homework and yet receive one of the best educations in the world. Curious? Watch how the Finns did it in this clip from Michael Moore's compelling documentary film 'Where To Invade Next?'
Poor ranking on international test misleading about US student performance, researcher finds
January 16, 2013 by Jonathan Rabinovitz
An accurate comparison of nations' test scores must include a look at the social class characteristics of the students who take the test in each country, says Stanford education Professor Martin Carnoy.
Credit: Shutterstock(Phys.org)—A comprehensive analysis of international tests by Stanford and the Economic Policy Institute shows that U.S. schools aren't being outpaced by international competition.
Socioeconomic inequality among U.S. students skews international comparisons of test scores, finds a new report released today by the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Economic Policy Institute. When differences in countries' social class compositions are adequately taken into account, the performance of U.S. students in relation to students in other countries improves markedly.
The report, "What do international tests really show about U.S. student performance?", also details how errors in selecting sample populations of test-takers and arbitrary choices regarding test content contribute to results that appear to show U.S. students lagging.
In conducting the research, report co-authors Martin Carnoy, a professor of education at Stanford, and Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, examined adolescent reading and mathematics results from four test series over the last decade, sorting scores by social class for the Program on International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and two forms of the domestic National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Based on their analysis, the co-authors found that average U.S. scores in reading and math on the PISA are low partly because a disproportionately greater share of U.S. students comes from disadvantaged social class groups, whose performance is relatively low in every country.
As part of the study, Carnoy and Rothstein calculated how international rankings on the most recent PISA might change if the United States had a social class composition similar to that of top-ranking nations: U.S. rankings would rise to fourth from 14th in reading and to 10th from 25th in math. The gap between U.S. students and those from the highest-achieving countries would be cut in half in reading and by at least a third in math.
"You can't compare nations' test scores without looking at the social class characteristics of students who take the test in different countries," said Carnoy. "Nations with more lower social class students will have lower overall scores, because these students don't perform as well academically, even in good schools. Policymakers should understand how our lower and higher social class students perform in comparison to similar students in other countries before recommending sweeping school reforms."
The report also found:
- There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.
- Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.
- But the highest social class students in United States do worse than their peers in other nations, and this gap widened from 2000 to 2009 on the PISA.
- U.S. PISA scores are depressed partly because of a sampling flaw resulting in a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools among the test-takers. About 40 percent of the PISA sample in the United States was drawn from schools where half or more of the students are eligible for the free lunch program, though only 23 percent of students nationwide attend such schools.
"Such conclusions are oversimplified, frequently exaggerated and misleading," said Rothstein, who is also senior fellow at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute of Law and Social Policy at the University of California – Berkeley School of Law. "They ignore the complexity of test results and may lead policymakers to pursue inappropriate and even harmful reforms."
Carnoy and Rothstein examined test results in detail from the United States and six other nations: three of the highest scorers (Canada, Finland and South Korea) and three economically comparable nations (France, Germany and the United Kingdom). In cases where U.S. states voluntarily participated in the TIMSS for 8th grade mathematics, the researchers compared trends in these states' scores with trends in 8th grade mathematics on the NAEP.
The researchers show that score trends on these different tests can be very inconsistent, suggesting need for greater caution in interpreting any single test. For example, declining trends in U.S. average PISA math scores do not track with trends in TIMSS and NAEP, which show substantial math improvements for all U.S. social classes.
Carnoy and Rothstein say that the differences in average scores on these tests reflect arbitrary decisions about content by the designers of the tests. For example, although it has been widely reported that U.S. 15-year-olds perform worse on average than students in Finland in mathematics, U.S. students perform better than students in Finland in algebra but worse in number properties (e.g., fractions). If algebra had greater weight in tests, and numbers less weight, test scores could show that U.S. overall performance was superior to that of Finland.
The report comes as the administrators of TIMSS are preparing to make public more detailed data underlying 2011 test results, following last month's release of average national scores. PISA plans to release detailed data on its 2012 test in December 2013. Carnoy said that he and Rothstein will then be able to supplement their present report by comparing the most recent TIMSS and PISA results by social class across countries. He invites other researchers to conduct similar analyses, to see if their findings confirm those of the present report.
Education Trust: Profoundly Gates-funded, Test-driven-reform Machine
01/13/2015 10:12 am ET | Updated Mar 15, 2015
If Baltimore citizens thought Thornton was bad they certainly remember how bad Alonzo was. Even the achievement data he provided to make people think these education privatization policies were working were a few years later shown to be false by outside audit organizations. Global Wall Street education privatization has to provide false data to pose progressive as they always say-----THIS CORPORATE WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM IS ABOUT HELPING THOSE UNDERSERVED STUDENTS ACHIEVE-----meanwhile, the parents and students are shouting ---GET THIS POLICY AWAY FROM US AND JUST FUND OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PROVIDE THE RESOURCES FOR OUR CLASSROOMS AS DESCRIBED IN OUR US CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF EQUAL PROTECTION.
This new Baltimore School Superintendent graduate of Harvard teamed with NYC Bloomberg's point man Alonzo for national charter chain policy---left during Thornton to the Education Trust----the Bill Gates/Wall Street K-12 education policy think tank no doubt getting refreshed on the next phase of taking Baltimore K-12 to Asian neo-liberal education in the march to US International Economic Zone status in Baltimore.
With Baltimore City Hall controlled by Wall Street pols----we have both Harvard Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals----and Bush/Hopkins Wall Street global corporate neo-cons both installing our education policy and both not having a clue as to what good education policy is---they just want Wall Street to have those hundreds of billions of Federal education funds. This is the extreme opposite of the Finnish model---and yet, Finnish students achieve the same degree as Asian neo-liberal models.
I like this article because it points to the propaganda in how US achievement compared to other nations is deliberately hyped---Americans are indeed not doing as well as they were pre-Clinton era reform----but we are not that far behind other nations. Our university grads in STEM are as prepared for STEM jobs as Asian---they simply would be paid more if hired so global corporations go with the foreign student/worker. Yes, we have to rebuild the structures for success in our underserved public schools---as you see The Education Trust to which Baltimore's next school superintendent is tied is a Bush far-right education policy think tank---and states embracing The Education Trust policies most are the ones having the worst education policies for their citizens in modern history----No Child Left Behind from Bush has Race to the Top written by the same people----and none of it has anything to do with quality education---it is the cheapest vehicle to get human capital into the workplace as quickly as possible and exploit those identified as advanced placement or gifted.
The Baltimore Sun added a new video:
Baltimore schools CEO Gregory Thornton to be replaced.
May 3 at 8:31pm ·
In an abrupt shift in the leadership of the Baltimore school system, schools CEO Gregory Thornton will step down Friday, officials say, clearing the way for a new superintendent to take over July 1.
He will be replaced by Sonja Santelises, who served for three years as chief academic officer under former CEO Andres Alonso.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Why You Can't Trust Education Trust Redux
Kati Haycock and Amy Wilkins continue to serve as reliable voices for a hostile takeover of the public schools by the Business Roundtable and the education industry. Their naivete, their blindness, and their acquired taste for threats and punishments against the poor and the weak have made them popular spokespersons for the hucksters and privatizers who continue to hide behind the cynical rhetoric of rescuing the urban poor in order to impose a stringent system of social and behavioral control.
Now the Bushies are hoping to escalate their war against public schools, and their strategy for reathorization of NCLB includes the opening of a new testing front in the high schools. Kati and Amy, the Colin and Condi of the expanding education propaganda war, are on the road and on the air spreading the lies that have been cooked up for them by the education industry and the gas bags from the right-wing sludge tanks.
Below is Jerry Bracey's factual response to Amy Wilkins's lies offered earlier this week on NPR:
THE EDUCATION TRUST’S DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN
YOU CAN’T TRUST THE EDUCATION TRUST
Gerald W. Bracey
There appears to be no level of dishonesty to which the Education Trust will not sink in propagating its agenda which is right now to get No Child Left Behind reauthorized. Thursday, July 19, on “On Point,” an NPR show that comes out of WBUR, the Trust’s Amy Wilkins told host Tom Ashbrook, “Our most affluent kids are getting their lunches eaten by kids in other countries. The system we have has not served our children well. There is no point pouring more federal money into very broken bottles.”
I listened to the show again this morning (July 20) and assure you the quote is accurate and that it is not taken out of context. Anyone can find it at www.wbur.org. The statement comes a little after minute 40 in the show.
Leave alone for a moment if a bottle can be “very broken,” what do the results of international comparisons actually look like? Here they are for the most recent incarnations of PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) and TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). I present the results for U. S. schools with fewer than 10% of students in poverty (13% of all U. S. students), 10-25% (17% of all students), 25-50% (28%), 50-75% (22%) and more than 75% (20%), interwoven with the top countries, the international average for all countries and the U. S. overall average.
Country % of Poverty Score
US 10% 589
US 10-25% 567
U. S. 25-50% 551
U. S. overall 542
U. S. 50-75% 519
Int’l avg. (35 countries) 500
U.S 75+% 489
TIMSS Math 4th Grade
Country % of Poverty Score
Hong Kong 575
US 10% 567
US 10-25% 543
U. S. 25-50% 533
US overall 518
US 50-75% 500
Int’l avg. (25 Countries) 495
US 75%+ 471
TIMSS Science 4th grade
Country % of Poverty Score
US 10% 579
US 10-25% 567
US 25-50% 551
Hong Kong 542
US overall 536
US 50-75% 519
Int’l avg. 489
U. S. 75%+ 480
TIMSS 8th grade results look very similar.
Thus, for reading and science, the two categories of US schools with the smallest percentages of students living in poverty score higher than even the highest nation, Sweden in reading, Singapore in science. In math, the top US category would be 3rd in the world.
It is only in American schools with 75% of more of their students living in poverty where scores fall below the international average.
The TIMSS results are in NCES report NCES 2005-005 from the National Center for Education Statistics, U. S. Department of Education. The PIRLS results are online only at www.nces.ed.gov.
As well, most of the Asian students that make it to the upper tiers that lead to university are from fairly wealthy families. The lower tier as we see here are still only a percentage of the population attending school because they already tested as achievers. This would be like taking all US underserved schools and students out of these stats and then comparing globally. We know the failure is simply how we allowed our underserved schools become so underfunded and under-resourced----
THEY ARE PROGRESSIVE POSING IN PRETENDING GLOBAL CORPORATE ASIAN NEO-LIBERAL EDUCATION IS BEST FOR OUR US STUDENTS.
'For instance, the Shanghai students who scored #1 in the world were part of 170,000 students enrolled in the city. There were 570,000 more students that were not allowed to attend those schools because the were part of migrant worker families. They were not born in Shanghai and therefore don’t have access to any schools there'.
China’s Education Gap – A Surprising Factor in Rural Poverty
China’s education system is up held as a symbol of excellence around the world. In fact, Shanghai high schoolers recently participated in a study of students from 65 countries, representing 80% of the world’s economy. The result? Shanghai students scored best in the world for math, reading and science. In fact, east Asia had 7 of the top 10 scores. The United States, by comparison, scored 36th place. While education in China is a tremendous benefit for some, there’s more to the story.
A gaping chasm exists in the education system. China once pioneered a merit-based system of education through standardized test scores. Now a system that was once an equalizer, perpetuates inequality.
For instance, the Shanghai students who scored #1 in the world were part of 170,000 students enrolled in the city. There were 570,000 more students that were not allowed to attend those schools because the were part of migrant worker families. They were not born in Shanghai and therefore don’t have access to any schools there.
The education gap is largely defined on rural vs. urban status, and there are significant gaps at all levels of schooling.
Primary School in China
China requires nine years of school of all students and provides the education through a government-run education system. Six years of primary or elementary school are provided along with three years of junior secondary (middle school). As soon as elementary school, facilities and quality of teachers start to create a gap between rural students and their urban counterparts.
In urban classrooms, students use state-of-the-art technology. They learn English, reading, math and science from well-qualified educators. By contrast, many rural schools include cramped dormitories where students eat and sleep because they’ve traveled from their homes in the mountains. Teachers are under-resourced and lack incentives.
Chinese Secondary School
Secondary (high school) education is typically three more years and is the financial responsibility of the student’s family. As high school nears, a financial barrier starts to widen the gap between rural and urban students. Only about 40% of rural students even attend high school because of the cost. Many decide to drop out in middle school. They pursue a trade to start earning income for their struggling families.
60% of students in rural China drop out before high school.
Higher Education in China
By the time students are ready to take college entrance exams, 95% of rural students have dropped out of the system. The remaining 5% of rural students reach a Chinese university through an unfair and discriminatory system. Since college entrance is based on test scores, all students are required to take the entrance exam. The exams are required to be completed in a student’s hometown, recording a rural or urban status. This status is a key factor in discrimination.
Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai are given higher quotas for student admittance to colleges in hopes of yielding better test scores. As an example, research showed an application from Beijing is 41 times more likely to be admitted to Peking University than a comparable student from a rural province.
Only 5% of rural Chinese students attend college.
Urban Migration’s Effect on Rural Education
As over 250M people migrate from rural to urban areas in search of higher paying work, over 60M students are left behind. The left behind children are typically raised by their grandparents. Not only are their family relationships fractured, they often have to take on more of the physical responsibilities because their aging guardians are unable. This means dropping out of school as soon as they are able to plow fields and tend crops.
The children that follow their parents to the cities face education challenges as well. The internal passport system of Hukou limits access to urban schools for these children. Without urban registration, parents often hire private tutors and create makeshift private schools. This solution is expensive and fails to compare in quality of education to the government-run urban schools. Complicated and corrupt urban registration systems further compound the issue for rural families. Many parents are left no choice but send their children back to rural hometowns for inferior schooling.
Stories of the Education Gap
Two stories from Helen Gao in the NY Times illustrate the divide perfectly:
“Chang Qing, a friend and mother of a 16-year-old girl, has been preparing her daughter, Xiaoshuang, for America since the girl was a toddler. She played her tapes of English lessons made from Disney movies, and later hosted a steady stream of exchange students from America to hone her child’s accent. Now, her daughter speaks impeccable English and attends a private academy in Beijing where annual tuition is around $24,000. Ms. Chang believes that nothing short of an Ivy League education will suffice.
On a trip to the countryside in Hunan Province (the home of Mao Zedong), I met Jiang Heng, a skinny 11-year-old whose parents work in a handbag factory in neighboring Guangdong. The boy attends a local elementary school that takes him an hour and half to walk to and, together with his younger brother, is looked after by his grandparents. I asked him what he wanted to do after high school. He looked confused, as if the answer was too obvious. ‘I want to be a migrant worker,’ he told me, without blinking.”
The gap between rural and urban education is one factor contributing to the poverty crisis in China. Read about the other factors here.
Clinton/Bush/Obama have worked hard to push Americans to second world standards including our funding and resourcing for public schools. Our US cities can be termed third world. Social safety nets gutted create conditions working against learning in the US that European children do not see. Simply looking at the lead issues in paint and water pipes and its affect on learning shows why the US student achievement is not as high. All of this has nothing to do with our public schools----it is all about Wall Street global corporate policy.
You install an education reform that lowers rigor at the same time you defund and dismantle all the support structures in our schools---mix that with chronic long term unemployment and poverty---and YES, US STUDENTS DO NOT SCORE AS WELL ESPECIALLY AT THE LOWER-INCOME LEVEL. We all know the problem with learning is poverty, lack of resources, and public health. LET'S FIX THOSE TO RAISE US ACHIEVEMENT SCORE COMPARISONS GLOBALLY.
U.S. poverty rates higher, safety net weaker than in peer countries
Report • By Elise Gould and Hilary Wething • July 24, 2012
Poverty rates in the United States increased over the 2000s, a trend exacerbated by the Great Recession and its aftermath. By 2010, just over 46 million people fell below the U.S. Census Bureau’s official poverty line (according to data from the Current Population Survey). This preview of The State of Working America, 12th Edition puts the U.S. experience with poverty in an international context, comparing the lower end of the wage and income distribution in the United States with that of “peer” countries, largely countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with roughly similar GDP per hour worked as the United States.
Research covered in this publication will be included in the 12th edition of EPI’s The State of Working America, which will be released on Tuesday, September 11. The first part of this preview provides a general comparison of poverty and the earnings distribution in the United States and peer countries. Next, it examines the extent to which resources go to the bottom, focusing specifically on the tax and transfer system that redistributes market income and provides a safety net to keep people out of poverty, or to help those who fall into poverty due to unexpected job losses or other reversals get back on their feet.
Poverty and the earnings distribution
One particular point of interest in international comparisons, shown in Figure A, is the ratio of earnings (wages) at the 10th percentile of the earnings distribution to earnings of the median worker. This measures how workers at the bottom fare in relation to the typical worker, with a lower number implying more inequality. As the figure shows, earnings at the 10th percentile in the United States are less than half (47.4 percent) of those of the typical worker. This is the lowest share in the figure and is far below the (unweighted) peer average of 62.0 percent.
Earnings at the 10th percentile as a share of median worker earnings in selected OECD countries, late 2000sNote: Earnings is generally defined as gross earnings (wages prior to tax deductions or adjustments) for full-time, full-year workers.
Source: Authors' analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Distribution of Gross Earnings metadata (data group labelled "late 2000s")
Figure A shows that earners at the 10th percentile in the United States are further from the U.S. median than 10th-percentile earners in peer countries are from their own countries’ respective medians. However, median earnings vary across countries. Thus, the data in Figure A do not directly tell us how well-off workers at the 10th percentile in other countries are compared with U.S. workers at the 10th percentile.
Figure B directly compares the level of earnings (a measure of living standards) of low-earning workers in the United States with the living standards of low-earning workers in peer countries. The figure is scaled such that earnings at the 10th percentile in the United States equal 100 percent, making it easy to identify countries with higher relative earnings by their longer bars.
Despite the relatively high earnings at the top of the U.S. income scale (as illustrated in the forthcoming The State of Working America, 12th Edition), inequality in the United States is so severe that low-earning U.S. workers are actually worse off than low-earning workers in all but seven peer countries. As shown in the figure, the United States ranks 12th out of the 19 peer countries shown.
Where did all that pre-K funding in the billions of dollars go? It is creating the foundation of global corporate education businesses overseas in Asia coming to the US and simply buying out these 'small businesses'. Almost none of that Federal funding went to our public schools to augment their classroom resources.
If you look hard enough you will see this is the same pre-K structure in Asian neo-liberal education systems that end being for-profit and taking huge amounts of parents' disposable income as they fight to assure their child gets into the right tiered tracking.
THE GODDARD SCHOOL FRANCHISE BASED IN BLOOMBERG'S NYC. ISN'T THAT FROM WHERE ALONZO CAME? YOU BETCHA.
Now located all over Maryland ------
Grand Opening Celebration For New Goddard School In Sienna Plantation, Texas On October 18
Oct 08, 2014, 14:51 ET from Goddard Systems, Inc
Meanwhile, the small business owners in Baltimore thinking they have their own businesses in pre-K will soon fail to get funding and see market share taken by these few national education charter chains.
Wall Street global pols love to use Sweden as the progressive model but Sweden has shed its socially progressive policies and become one of the most connected to global neo-liberalism in Europe. This article shows how ridiculous this will become all over some propaganda as to the US needing to compete with all these nations. Can you imagine being a parent worried about whether a 1 year old child gets into the right pre-school? All of which is for-profit because don't be fooled by the corporate non-profits being created in your neck of the woods.
'By 2020, China will increase preschool enrollment by 50 percent, providing access to 40 million children. This access will include 3 years of preschool for 70 percent of all children in China and at least two years to 80 percent of 3 and 4 year olds'.
Remember when a mother and father were able to teach their infants and toddlers a thing or two?
The reality of Swedish neo-liberalism
Sweden once had a reputation as some kind of ‘social-democratic model’ with far-reaching public services and social support. But that has been dismantled by two decades of attacks – what the Economist magazine calls a ‘silent revolution’
Per Olsson, Rättisvepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden)
The United States Is Far Behind Other Countries on Pre-K
SOURCE: AP/ Jim Mone
Preschool student play at the New Horizon Academy is shown in St. Paul, Minnesota. The United States currently lags behind other countries in terms of investment in and access to early education.
By Juliana Herman, Sasha Post, Scott O'Halloran | Thursday, May 2, 2013
Early childhood education and school readiness is essential to preparing our children to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. Compared to other countries, however, the United States lags far behind on preschool, trailing a number of other countries in enrollment, investment, and quality.
In February 2013, however, President Barack Obama put forth a bold plan to significantly expand access to preschool. His plan would invest $75 billion in high-quality preschool, helping our nation catch up with other countries.
The numbers below show how far behind the United States is on preschool and make it evident that we need to implement the president’s plan. If the United States is to train a world-class workforce, we have to catch up to the rest of the world on pre-K.
Today: We’re far behindTo put it plainly, the United States is getting beat when it comes to preschool. On almost every element, the United States ranks behind most of the other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD. We rank:
- 26th in preschool participation for 4-year-olds
- 24th in preschool participation for 3-year-olds
- 22nd in the typical age that children begin early childhood-education programs
- 15th in teacher-to-child ratio in early childhood-education programs
- 21st in total investment in early childhood education relative to country wealth
- The United States has a large preschool access gap. Only 69 percent of 4-year-old American children are enrolled in early childhood education. We rank 26th in access to preschool for 4-year-olds and 24th on access for 3-year-olds.
Moreover, top-performing countries are outpacing the United States in preschool participation for 4-year-olds. Japan, which outperformed the United States by more than 40 points on the most recent international test of fourth-grade math, enrolls nearly all of its 4-year-olds in preschool. Our close ally the United Kingdom also enrolls at least 97 percent of its 4-year-olds in preschool.
Even some countries that don’t top the global rankings on international achievement tests are outperforming the United States in preschool enrollment. Mexico, our neighbor to the south, may need to improve preschool quality, for example, but it has committed to enrolling nearly 100 percent of its 4-year-olds in preschool. What’s more, Mexico is accomplishing this despite being significantly poorer than the United States: Its per-capita gross domestic product, or GDP, is less than a third of ours.
The story is similar for 3-year-olds. Seven countries including France, Norway, and Italy ensure that at least 90 percent of all 3-year-olds have access to preschool. In the United States that number is barely 50 percent.
The age children start preschool
- Even when children do attend preschool in the United States, they usually don’t start until age 4. Most children in OECD countries, however, begin early childhood education much earlier. Denmark typically enrolls children from age 1, and Belgium at about age 2 and a half. In fact, children in most OECD countries—including those in Estonia, Japan, and Poland—begin preschool by at least age 3.
Teacher-to-child ratiosThe ratio of teachers to children is a key element of preschool quality. Academic powerhouse Finland has a teacher-to-child ratio of 1 to 11 in their early education programs, besting the United States’ average of 1 to 15 and demonstrating its strong commitment to providing high-quality preschool. Sweden and Estonia both have a ratio of 1 to 6, the best among all countries.
- The United States underinvests in preschool compared to most countries. Public and private spending on preschool in the United States amounts to only 0.4 percent of our GDP, while Denmark, Spain, and Israel each spend at least 0.9 percent. Increasing spending on preschool to even 0.6 percent of our GDP, which would put us on par with countries such as Germany and Poland, would result in an additional $30 billion per year in early childhood education. This would be more than enough to enroll all 3- and 4-year-olds in high-quality preschool.
Although Russia is not an OECD member, the United States should take notice of its preschool commitment, especially since Russia has leap-frogged the United States on fourth-grade reading over the past decade. After trailing the United States by 14 points on the 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS, for fourth-grade reading, Russia surpassed the United States by more than 10 points in 2011.
Russia enrolls 75 percent of its 4-year-olds in preschool, spending about 0.9 percent of its GDP on early childhood education altogether. This would tie Russia for third among OECD countries if it were a member.
In terms of per-student expenditures, Luxembourg leads the pack, spending more than $16,000 per child. Italy and Sweden, which both have programs that are almost entirely publicly funded, spend more than $6,500 per child. According to the OECD, the average per-pupil expenditure in the United States is about $8,400; this includes, however, both privately and publicly funded programs. Expenditures for federally funded Head Start programs, which provide more than just preschool services, are approximately the same amount per pupil—$8,369 in 2009—although Head Start reaches a very small share of U.S. children. The majority of children in publicly funded programs are in state-funded preschool programs, where expenditures average only $4,143 per pupil.
Why do these numbers matter?Studies show that high-quality early childhood education can significantly improve a child’s preliteracy, prewriting, and premath skills. Children in Tennessee’s state-funded pre-K program, for example, saw a 75 percent improvement in letter-word identification, a 152 percent improvement in oral comprehension, a 176 percent improvement in picture vocabulary, and a 63 percent improvement in quantitative concepts, compared to children not in pre-K.
These vital skills have been linked to third-grade reading achievement—a predictor of high school graduation—and to success in math in secondary school and later in life. School readiness and the skills gained from high-quality early childhood education are essential to educating a strong workforce that is able to successfully compete in the global economy. And yet the United States is behind in every category of preschool.
Future: Without investment, we’ll fall further behind
Things may only get worse for the United States. Rising superpowers India and China are making serious and significant commitments to expand access to early childhood education over the next few decades. In a report released last year, “The Competition that Really Matters,” CAP outlined China’s and India’s commitments:
By 2020, China will increase preschool enrollment by 50 percent, providing access to 40 million children. This access will include 3 years of preschool for 70 percent of all children in China and at least two years to 80 percent of 3 and 4 year olds.
By 2018, India will raise the percent of children who are ready for school from 26 to 60, for a total of about 19 million children school ready. The preschool system already reaches 38 million children under six.
Commitments such as China’s and India’s are neither unrealistic nor exceptional. More than a decade ago, the British government pledged to provide universal preschool to every child between the ages of 3 and 5, and it has achieved that goal. Mexico similarly committed to expanding its early childhood-education enrollment, increasing its participation by almost 30 percent over the past eight years.
The United States is in a race to educate a globally competitive workforce—one that is needed to keep our economy strong and booming. As we wrote in the aforementioned report, “intellectual and innovative superiority” will rule the day. We can continue to lead on that front by making a significant investment in education, or we can instead allow ourselves to fall further behind.
High-quality preschool is critically important for building a globally competitive workforce. Yet our numbers are not impressive. We lag behind other countries in access, quality, and investment. We are getting beat by top-performing countries whose commitment to preschool helps propel them forward, as well as by countries we usually do not expect to see ahead of us in rankings. Meanwhile, China and India are racing ahead to improve their student achievement and are making the necessary commitments to do so.
The United States has a lot to do to catch up to the rest of the world on early childhood education. Increased investments in high-quality preschool education for all children, regardless of income, will put us more in line with the rest of the world, help keep us on track with China and India, and ensure school readiness for our most at-risk children.
Juliana Herman is a Policy Analyst with the Education Policy team at the Center for American Progress. Sasha Post is Special Advisor to CAP President and CEO Neera Tanden. Scott O’Halloran was an intern with the Education team at the Center.