Education

August 15, 2012
 

Education Olympics: How Does the U.S. Rank?

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The United States left the 2012 London Olympics with 104 medals in tow. But how do we stack up against the world when it comes to education?

According to this infograph by Certification Map, the U.S. — which leads in gold medal count — is ranked seventh in high school graduation rates, trailing countries like Germany, Japan and Great Britain.

Fourth to last place was not always the case, reports American Graduate partner station WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza. The United States used to lead in high school graduation rates, but as developed countries continued to improve, our progress plateaued around 76 percent. Here are some key findings from her report:

What makes education in the U.S. different from the rest of the world?

“Schools have diluted their academic mission, by emphasizing the social experience: sports, proms and clubs,” said Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution.

Loveless doesn’t dispute that those activities teach qualities such as creativity and teamwork. “But it doesn’t boost your knowledge of mathematics or literature so there’s a price to pay,” he said. “When you do the statistical analysis of what countries are growing rapidly now, they tend to be the countries that have an education system that’s focused on academic skills.”

 

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