Education Study Finds U. S. FallingBehind
A Teachers in the United States earn less relative tonational income than their counterparts in many industrialized countries, yet they spend far more hours in front of the classroom, according to a major newinternational study.
B The salary differentials are part of apattern of relatively low public investment in education in the United States compared with other member nationsof the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group in Paris that compiled thereport. Total government spending on educational institutions in the United Statesslipped to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product in 1998, falling under theinternational average — 5 percent — for the first time.
C “The whole economy has grown faster thanthe education system,” Andreas Schleicher, one of the reports’ authors,explained. “The economy has done very well, but teachers have not fullybenefit.” The report, due out today, is the sixth on education published since1991 by the organization of 30 nations, founded in 1960, and now covering muchof Europe, North America, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
D In addition to the teacher pay gap, thereport shows the other countries have begun to catch up with the United Statesin higher education: college enrollment has grown by 20 percent since 1995across the group, with one in four young people now earning degrees. For thefirst time, the United States’ college graduation rate, now at 33percent, is not the world’s highest. Finland,the Netherlands, New Zealand and Britain have surpassed it.
E The United States is also producingfewer mathematics and science graduates than most of the other member states.And, the report says, a college degree produces a greater boost in income herewhile the lack of a high school diploma imposes a bigger income penalty. “The number of graduates is increasing, but that stimulates even more of a demand —there is no end in sight,” Mr. Schleicher said. “The demand for skill, clearly,is growing faster than the supply that is coming from schools and colleges.”
F The report lists the salary for a highschool teacher in the United Stateswith 15 years experience as $36,219, above the international average of $31,887but behind seven other countries and less than 60 percent of Switzerland’s$62,052. Because teachers in the Unites States have a heavier classroom load —teaching almost a third more hours than their counterparts abroad — theirsalary per hour of actual teaching is $35, less than the international averageof $41 (Denmark, Spain and Germany pay more than $50 per teaching hour, SouthKorea $77). In 1994, such a veteran teacher in the United States earned 1.2 times theaverage per capita income whereas in 1999 the salary was just under thenational average. Only the Czech Republic, Hungary,Iceland and Norway pay their teachers less relative tonational income; in South Korea, teachers theactual teaching salary earn 2.5 times the nationalaverage. Teacher pay accounts for 56 percent of what the United Statesspends on education, well below the 67 percent average among the group ofcountries.
G The new data come as the United Statesfaces a shortage of two million teachers over the next decade, with questions oftraining, professionalism and salaries being debated by politicians local andnational. Joost Yff, an international expert at the American Association ofColleges of Teacher Education, said training for teachers is comparable amongmost of the nations in the study, and that they are all dealing with similarissues of raising standards and increasing professionalism.
H Though the United States lags behind in scores on standardized tests in science and mathematics, students here get more instruction in those subjects, the report shows. The average 14-year-oldAmerican spent 295 hours in math and science classes in 1999, far more than the229 international average; only Austria(370 hours), Mexico (367)and New Zealand(320) have more instruction in those subjects. Middle-schoolers here spend less time thantheir international counterparts studying foreign languages and technology, butfar more hours working on physical education and vocational skills. High schoolstudents in the United Statesare far more likely to have part-time jobs: 64 percent of Americans ages 15 to19 worked while in school, compared with an international average of 31 percent(only Canada and the Netherlands, with 69 percent, and Denmark,with 75 percent, were higher).
I One place the United States spends more money is on special services for the disabled and the poor. More than one infour children here are in programs based on income — only five other countriesserve even 1 in 10— and nearly 6 percent get additional resources based on physical or mental handicaps, twice or three times the rate in other countries.
J The report shows a continuing shift inwhich the United Statesis losing its status as the most highly educated among the nations. The UnitedStates has the highest level of high school graduates ages 55 to 64, but fallsto fifth, behind Norway, Japan, South Korea, the Czech Republic andSwitzerland, among ages 25 to 34. Among college graduates, it leads in theolder generation but is third behind Canada and Japan in the younger cohort (一群). While the portion of Americans with high schooldiplomas remains at 88 percent across age groups, the average age among membercountries is rising. It has gone from 58 percent of those ages 45 to 54, to 66percent of those ages 35 to 44 and 72 percent of those ages 25 to 34. A higherpercentage of young people in Norway,Japan, South Korea, the CzechRepublic and Switzerland have degrees than in the United States.
K “The U.S. has led the development incollege education and making education sort of accessible for everyone,” Mr.Schleicher said. “It’s now becoming the norm.”
1. Compared with their counterparts in many industrialized countries, the U.S. teachers work longer.
2. The U.S. government spent 4.8% of its GDP on education in 1998.
3. From the passage we learn about Finland surpassesthe U.S.in college graduation rate.
4. When the number of graduates in the U.S.increases, the demand for them is rising.
5. The new study shows that the actual teaching salary per hour in the U.S. is $35.
6. In the report, the U.S.students’ study of science and mathematics get most instruction in those subjects in the OECD.
7. Compared with those in other OECD countries, high school students in the U.S. spend more time in in physical education and vocational skills.
8. It is for the special services for thedisabled and the poor that the United States pays more money than other OECD countries.
9. Those who have high school diplomas in the U. S. account for 88percent ofthe Americans of all ages.
10. According toMr. Schleicher, the U.S.is becoming the norm in making education accessible for everyone and collegeeducation.