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America’s educational system is failing millennials. Badly.
Granted, this age group is likely to be the most educated generation in American history, but according to a study by the Educational Testing Service, they rank among the bottom in the world for literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE).
ETS dug into test results conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), singled out the cohort born after 1980, and broke them down by country. Here are the disturbing results:
- Literacy: Out of 22 participating countries, U.S. millennials ranked third from the bottom, beating only Spain and Italy.
- Numeracy: U.S. millennials ranked last, tied with Spain and Italy.
- PS-TRE: U.S. millennials also ranked last, along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.
Not only that, when ETS singled out the top-performing millennials, U.S. students still ranked second to last. Even though a higher percentage of young adults are getting higher levels of education, the numeracy scores have dropped. America is handing out more and more diplomas while actual learning is dropping lower and lower.
Looking at this dismal state of affairs, many well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) critics will say, “A-ha! We need to increase school budgets to fix this mess.” That argument might be more compelling if it weren’t for another OECD study.
As the chart shows, the U.S. spends more on education per student than any other developed nation. In 2010, America spent over $11,000 per elementary student and over $12,000 per high schooler. Adding in college and post-secondary vocational training, the U.S. spent a whopping $15,171 on each student.
We’re spending more money on education, sending our kids to more classrooms, but we’re getting inferior results. Education needs to change structurally if we are to compete in the global economy.
That’s where school choice comes in. Instead of flooding resources into our broken system, we need to change the paradigm. Parents, not government bureaucrats, should have the freedom to choose the best education for a their child. We need to encourage healthy competition among schools and education styles so that all programs have an incentive to improve.
The one-size-fits-all education model obviously isn’t working for the U.S. It’s past time to allow students access to the education that works best for them, to provide incentives for them to achieve, and to motivate schools to improve.Published in