The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released its annual Education at a Glance report this week. The report contains some humbling news for the United States revealing that although the United States' spending per-pupil was the highest at $10,240 of the countries that were studied, American 15-year-olds finished 14th, 15th, and 19th in science, math, and reading, respectively.
The report tracks teacher pay, teacher supply, and classroom size data showing that many of our teacher issues are not unique to American soil. Among participating nations, an average of 12% of teaching posts were vacant at the beginning of the school year. Class sizes in the United States are about average, with the range being as high as 36 pupils per class in Korea down to less than 18 in Iceland, Luxembourg, and Greece. American teachers were the hardest working, putting in 1,139 hours on the job each year compared to less than 660 in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Slovakia, and Turkey. Canada scores in the top five in the world on reading, math, and science despite the fact that their student-to-teacher ratio is the highest in the Western world. The U.S., despite all of our political frenzy over class size, is middling both in size of class and student achievement.