Earning a college degree increases one’s earning potential and economic value significantly—yet the United States is being outpaced by many other countries in the percentage of students completing college.
The authors of “A Dozen Economic Facts About K-12 Education” identify key facts about K-12 education and include tips on how improvements can benefit U.S. students and the national economy. Here are some of those facts; for the full report, click here.
The report was released by The Hamilton Project, which aims to advance opportunity, growth, and prosperity in the nation.
1. Having less education can limit your earnings prospects.
The report notes that less-educated people enter the workforce earning much less than entry-level college graduates. In fact, in 2010, nearly 80 percent of high school dropouts earned less than $30,000. Of workers earning more than $100,000 a year, more than 75 percent had at least a college degree.
2. The U.S. is no longer a world leader in high school and college completion.
The U.S. now ranks 15th in the world in the percentage of workers ages 25-34 who have a college degree. That’s a sharp plummet from ranking second 30 years ago. It’s not that fewer U.S. workers hold a degree: The nation’s college completion rate has remained stagnant, while other countries (such as South Korea and Japan) have seen their college completion rates soar in recent years.
U.S. high school completion rates fell to eleventh place when ranked globally. Students in the U.S. rank 14th in international reading assessments and 25th on international math assessments. President Obama has made college completion a core goal of his administration.
3. The achievement gap between white and minority students remains.
Data reveal that when black students enter kindergarten or first grade, they already achieve at lower levels than their white peers when it comes to standardized tests—and that achievement gap grows larger with age. Some evidence points to school quality, and the vast variation that exists in schools across the nation, as one reason for this gap.
4. Education lags behind other sectors in innovation investments.
Education faces “a relative innovation deficit,” in that the U.S. spends anywhere from 3 to 23 percent of its expenditures on research and development in other sectors, but just 0.2 percent of education expenditures are spent on research and development. Average test scores have fallen flat, and the nation could benefit from new approaches aimed at increasing productivity and innovation, the report says.
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