USA Today Story on OECD Report
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- Subject: USA Today Story on OECD Report
- From: George Sheridan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 23:03:32 -0700
Posted 9/16/2003 7:45 AM Updated 9/16/2003 11:56 AM
U.S. tops the world in school spending but not test scores
WASHINGTON (AP) ? The United States spends more public and private money on
education than other major countries, but its performance doesn't measure
up in areas ranging from high-school graduation rates to test scores in
math, reading and science, a new report shows.
"There are countries which don't get the bang for the bucks, and the U.S.
is one of them," said Barry McGaw, education director for the Paris-based
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which produced the
annual review of industrialized nations.
The United States spent $10,240 per student from elementary school through
college in 2000, according to the report. The average was $6,361 among more
than 25 nations.
The range stretched from less than $3,000 per student in Turkey, Mexico,
the Slovak Republic and Poland to more than $8,000 per student in Denmark,
Norway, Austria and Switzerland.
The report cited Australia, Finland, Ireland, Korea and the United Kingdom
as examples of OECD nations that have moderate spending on primary and
lower secondary education but high levels of performance by 15-year-olds in
key subject areas.
As for the United States, it finished in the middle of the pack in its
15-year-olds' performance on math, reading and science in 2000, and its
high-school graduation rate was below the international average in 2001 ?
figures highlighted by Education Secretary Rod Paige.
The country fared better in reading literacy among fourth-graders, where it
finished among the top scorers in 2001. But the declining performance as
students grow older served as a warning to the nation, Paige said.
"These results highlight an extremely important truth about our educational
system: I think we have become complacent, self-satisfied and often lacking
the will to do better," Paige said.
Appropriate spending has emerged as a key political issue this year as the
nation's schools deal with federal reforms. The No Child Left Behind law
demands better performance from students and teachers, particularly in
low-income districts, but critics say Republican leaders in Congress have
spent too little on the effort.
The report, released Tuesday, sets international benchmarks and identifies
areas for improvement.
Based on educational level, the report says the United States spends the
most on higher education for every student and is a leading spender on
primary and secondary education.
Paige said the nation must fill the gap between it and other countries, and
bridge another between students succeeding in American public schools and
those falling behind. Within that promising fourth-grade reading showing in
the United States, Paige said, is a revealing number: the higher the
percentage of poor students, the lower the average score.
"There's no such thing as a 'typical' fourth-grader," Paige said. "We want
to go to each fourth-grader. We need to see who needs the help."
The new federal law requires states to chart adequate yearly progress ? not
just for a school's overall population, but for groups such as minorities
and students who speak little English. Sanctions grow by the year for
schools receiving low-income aid that don't improve enough. Consequences
range from letting students transfer to a better school within their
districts to handing control of a poor-performing school to the state.
"No other country is imposing such a rigorous requirement on its schools,"
But from school boards to Congress, growing numbers of leaders say the
federal government isn't committing enough money to the task. States must,
for example, expand their standardized testing and put a highly qualified
teacher in every core class by 2005-06.
Federal education spending has grown by $11 billion since President Bush
took office, Paige said, but that includes spending beyond the first 12
grades. Even increased money for elementary and secondary education doesn't
cover the law's sweeping expenses, said David Shreve of the National
Conference of State Legislatures.
Cool, California 95614
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