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

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  February 13, 2009; 5:53 PM ET  | Category:  Math Education Reform
Previous: Friday Quiz, Take 9 | Next: Life After Algebra II


That's great. Maybe soon we can start getting some of those manufacturing jobs back!

Posted by: voldenuit123 | February 17, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Will you still think that's great when you have their standard of living and you inherit their third world status?

Posted by: tjmorgan1 | February 17, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Heartening news that graduation rates are up in Asia. Disturbing news that they are dropping here and in India. I suspect demographic analysis will show that immigrant families from Latin America - unlike Asian immigrants - have a cultural bias against youngsters going to school instead of working to bring up the families' incomes. This has likely skewed the U.S. statistics. In India there is still widespread discrimination against minorities.

To take advantage of improving education levels, the free economies of the world must embrace limited global socialism, whereby nations work together to control the sources of capital and create the demand for new technology - not because of a need for exotic weaponry but based on a desire to save the global environment. Then they can put the newly educated population to work for the common good. This is the challenge for the next generation.

Posted by: loyalsyst | February 17, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

What are the reasons for kids dropping out of high school? I suspect that once they start 'losing ground' in their studies, they don't want to face the struggle to keep up. Turmoil at home (being homeless is an example of the worst kind of turmoil) affects your momentum in your studies. In the meantime, at the school, the pace continues as usual; it's not good to lower standards - so students have to keep up.
A few years ago, a fact was revealed about a lovely little affluent town near mine. There were students who, with their families, were living out of cars. I was heartened to see that the school acknowledged this, didn't try to hide the fact that this is something they felt challenged to deal with but they WOULD work to keep the students involved and respected their privacy and shame.
When there's turmoil in the culture, that's reflected in the schools. We have been headed in this direction for quite some time.

Posted by: KathyWi | February 18, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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