Washington, D.C. – Key U.S. data in Education at a Glance 2015, a report released today in Paris, relied on the work of the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report allows for international comparisons on a wide array of educational data, from pre-school attendance to the employment of people with college degrees.
For the first time, the report is accompanied by select subnational data, completed with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and AIR. The subnational data enable researchers and policymakers to determine how U.S. states stack up on a host of educational benchmarks, against one another and the 33 other OECD countries.
For example, the United States ranked 13th among OECD and partner countries in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with postsecondary degrees in 2014, with 46 percent. The state-by-state breakdown shows that if it were a country, Massachusetts would rank 4th—after Korea, Canada and Russia—with 55 percent. (The state data lag the OECD data by one year.)
“In the past, EAG has presented only countrywide averages, which can mask the degree of variation within countries,” said Rachel Dinkes, a senior researcher at AIR. “When we started this project three years ago, we were surprised by the disparity, not just in the United States, but in other countries like Germany, Canada, Brazil and Spain.”
AIR researchers contributed to the collection, submission and presentation of the U.S. data for the annual report. Among many findings, the data show:
- Though the District of Columbia had the highest enrollment (81 percent) of 4-year-olds in pre-primary programs in the United States in 2013, this rate was still below the OECD average of 85 percent. The state with the highest enrollment, New Jersey, was 10 percentage points below the OECD average, at 75 percent. The two states with the lowest rate of enrollment for 4-year-olds, Idaho and Nevada (40 percent each), were ahead of only one OECD country—Turkey, at 36 percent.
- Of 32 countries with comparable data, the United States ranked 10th in percentage of young people (ages 25-34) with bachelor’s degrees, at 25 percent. By state, percentages ranged from 14 percent in Mississippi to 30 percent in Massachusetts.
- In terms of young people with master’s degrees and professional degrees, such as J.D.’s and M.D.’s, the United States ranked 25th out of 30 countries with comparable data—followed by Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Greece and Turkey. Within the United States, the District of Columbia had the highest percentage (35 percent) of young people with master’s and professional degrees. Next highest was Massachusetts, with 16 percent. Nevada had the lowest, with 4 percent.
- The percentage of 15 to 19-year-olds enrolled in education ranged from 54 percent to 97 percent among OECD countries. U.S. states ranged from 81 percent (Hawaii) to 92 percent (Maine and Massachusetts).
Subnational data were also collected for Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The data covered just six indicators out of several dozen examined in the 563-page report.
“OECD and its partner nations want to continue and expand this work to include more countries and more indicators,” said Jana Kemp, a senior researcher at AIR. “The goal is to produce an even more comprehensive report and bring Education at a Glance to a wider audience.”
Other key findings of the report include:
- Among OECD countries, the United States had the highest percentage of people graduating from college with a degree in the humanities or the arts at 21 percent, 10 points higher than the OECD average. By contrast, science degrees comprised 8 percent of graduates in the U.S., just below the OECD average of 9. Six percent of U.S. students earned degrees in engineering, manufacturing and construction, compared to the OECD average of 14 percent—though 41 percent of all U.S. doctoral graduates got degrees in science or engineering, only 2 percentage points lower than the OECD average.
- The share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on pre-college education in the U.S. was 3.6 percent, close to the OECD average of 3.7 percent. New Zealand spent the largest share of GDP on pre-college education—5 percent.
- The average actual salary for primary school teachers (grades 1–6) in the U.S. was $51, 334, well above the OECD-converted average of $41,248. Only Austria, Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg paid more. Teachers of grades 7–9 in the U.S. made $52,343 on average, compared to the equivalent of $43,626 among OECD nations. Teachers of grades 10–12 earned $54,083 on average, compared to the equivalent of $47,702 in the OECD. (Actual salaries include earnings from base pay, extra-curricular activities and merit/bonus pay.)
Education at a Glance 2015 can be found at www.oecd.org/education/education-at-a-glance-19991487.htm. The subnational data may be found at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/annualreports/oecd/index.asp.
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.