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US Education Pretty 'Meh' Compared to the World

The latest international findings on education among developed countries has found that the U.S., once a leader in education, sits firmly in the middle of the pack. The good news for Americans is that the system hasn't gotten worse. What's kept the one-time leader from staying on top is that other countries have figured out how to get ahead, according to USA Today.

This week, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Developed released its latest annual report, "Education at a Glance," which found that well under half of U.S. 3-year-olds are enrolled in preschool or pre-kindergarten. The average among all OECD countries is 72 percent.

The findings are based on education statistics from nations who make up the OECD, which include most European countries, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Chile, Israel, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and China.

Another indicator of educational indicator is the number of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool. In the U.S., it's about 66 percent of kids in that age group. Among the OECD nations, it's all the way at 88 percent on average.

Americans also invest a smaller percent of their national budget into pre-primary education, around .4 percent, whereas OECD nations invest, on average, around .6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product.

On average, OECD nations invest about 0.6 percent of GDP in pre-primary education. Countries that are often held up as enviable systems—Norway,

Another indicator the OECD study looked at is K–12 class size, which tends to be larger in the younger years in the U.S., but smaller than the OECD average in middle and high school. But don't get too excited. Those smaller class sizes don't translate to more professional time for teachers, which OECD nations enjoy more of, on average. American teachers have fewer opportunities to collaborate professional and observe each others work, instead working more in isolation and being judged on their students' performance in the classroom and on standardized tests.

Regarding standardized tests, here's a surprise: U.S. students don't spend more time on testing than many of the other OECD countries' schools. The U.S. ranks right in the middle on that, too.

The study also looked at higher education. The study found that college degrees pay off big in the U.S., compared to the other countries. However, getting access to college degrees is more cost prohibitive, especially compared to countries like the U.K., where grants for university degrees have been expanded and all students who qualify for college can afford to go.

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