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U.S. Tops in Education Spending, Not So Much in Results
June 26, 2013

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The U.S. is first in spending on education among developed nations, but that spending doesn't necessarily equate to higher results, a new study has found.

The study was released in the annual education report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 34-member grouping of the world's richest countries. Among the findings of the 440-page report:

In 2010, the U.S. spent more than $11,000 on each elementary student and more than $12,000 on each high school student. And that was just in the classroom. Addition of vocational training and post-secondary education increased the figure to $15,171 per student, higher than any other country profiled in the report. The average OECD country spent just $9,313 a student.

A first-year high school teacher in the U.S., on average, earns $38,000 a year. The OECD average is $31,000. The overall average salary for an American high school teacher is $53,000, compared to an OECD average of $45,500.

Overall, education spending made up 7.3 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, slightly less than chart-topping Denmark at 8 percent. The OECD average was 6.3 percent.

For all of that spending, however, American students continue to score below their OECD counterparts on international assessment activities. According to the Program for International Student Assessment, American 15-year-olds ranked 31st in mathematical literacy and 23rd in science literacy. Other results, released as part of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, ranked U.S. eight-graders ninth in mathematics in 2011. Recent assessments in other subjects have produced similar results.

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