U.S. Slides in Graduation Contest
Math and science education are not the only concerns when it comes to international competitiveness in a global economy. The United States is losing ground in one area where it used to set the world's standard: high school graduation rates.
For decades, the United States stood out for its universal kindergarten through 12th grade education system. But other countries have begun to follow suit. And as the United States struggles with high dropout rates, several countries now surpass the graduation rate here.
South Korea has made the most notable surge, going from relatively low levels of high school attainment in the 1960s to the top of the list among the 30 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Japan, Germany, Finland are also ahead.
According to a report issued by the Asia Society, the projected future supply of high school graduates is also poised to skyrocket elsewhere in Asia. China has achieved nearly universal education through the ninth grade and has set high goals to increase access beyond. (Now about two-thirds of students attend high school). India is lagging (only about 40 percent of students attended high school in 2005) but also has ambitious goals for broadening access.
"Nobody wants to be the shoe manufacturer for the world. Everyone wants to be a leading science-based economy," said Vivien Stewart, vice president for education at Asia Society.
Stewart said she was recently visited by a representative from the Kingdom of Bhutan, a remote mountainous country with few resources, that is trying to develop through education and brain power.
Some say the historically open educational system in the United Staets may have fostered complacence. "We have taken for granted the access we have had to education. For many students, school [today] is seen as something to get through as opposed to something that can take you further," said Lois Adams-Rodgers, deputy executive director at the council of chief state school officers, in the report.
If you'd like to read more, here is an article from USA Today about What the US could learn from S. Korean Schools
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