“Three years on from the start of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, it’s clear the kids aren’t all right, at least when it comes to school performance. American students’ performance in primary and secondary (K-12) education has taken a beating, with test scores suffering from some of the biggest drops in decades. Here are Five Facts on the current state of American education.”
- Current Performance of American Students: The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported the largest year-over-year drop in math scores among America’s 13-year-olds since 1973. Furthermore, reading scores also decreased by 4 points between 2020 and 2023. Despite the negative impact of remote learning on student performance, this data aligns with a downward trend evident since 2012.
- Education Spending in America: As of 2018, the United States ranked fifth among OECD countries in spending on primary and secondary education per student. The National Center for Education Statistics stated that the U.S. spent “$14,400 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student on elementary and secondary education,” 34 percent higher than the OECD average. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a continual increase in public school spending per pupil for ten years as of 2021.
- International Rankings: Despite being well-surveyed, the U.S. ranks 31st in math scores, 13th in reading scores, and 18th in science scores among 78 countries. As of 2018, China outperforms the U.S. in all these categories.
- High School Graduation Rate: The national public high school graduation rate in the U.S. is approximately 87%. The state of Connecticut holds the highest average student graduation rate at 92%, whereas the District of Columbia reports the lowest, with a 72% average graduation rate. Despite this variance, the U.S. boasts a relatively high rate of high school graduation among OECD countries.
- Public Opinion on American Education: According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 55% of Americans expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of K-12 education in the United States. This marked the highest level of dissatisfaction recorded since 2000. In line with these sentiments, a 2021 survey by the National School Boards Action Center revealed that 59% of voters support increasing funding and resources for public education.