OECD: Low-income U.S. Students Fail To Excel


Low-income American students trail their international peers in attaining academic excellence, according to new global data released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD is a collection of developed, primarily Western countries that seeks to promote economic growth and democratic governance.

In the report, a student is classified as “resilient” if they are in the bottom quarter of a a country’s economic wellbeing, but score above the 75th percentile of students worldwide on tests of reading and math ability.

Barely 20 percent of the U.S.’s disadvantaged students are classified as “resilient,” 5 percent below the OECD average of 25 percent. That’s worse than at least 33 other countries.

In comparison, the top-performing countries of Vietnam and Singapore had over 60 percent of their disadvantaged students finish at the 75th percentile or better. Countries finishing ahead of the U.S. also include the other major English-speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as every East Asian country from Thailand to Japan. The U.S. is even bested by Russia and Turkey.

The U.S. does beat a handful of high-income European countries, including Sweden and Denmark, but otherwise only comes out ahead of the Latin American and Middle Eastern countries observed by OECD.

This isn’t the first and likely won’t be the last time the U.S. fares badly according to OECD metrics. Other studies in recent years have found U.S. students in general performing poorly against international competition in subjects such as math, with this poor performance stretching from early grades all the way to college.

The U.S.’s poor outcomes occur despite other OECD data showing that American teachers spend more time teaching students than their colleagues in any other country.

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