Reams of statistics reveal that far too many American public schools are failing our students, teachers and parents, particularly in urban areas.
American students are not learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.
- Two out of three eighth-graders can’t read proficiently. (NAEP, 2011) (NAEP, 2011)
- Nearly two-thirds of eighth-graders scored below proficient in math. (NAEP, 2011)
- Seventy-five percent of students are not proficient in civics. (NAEP, 2011)
- Nearly three out of four eighth- and 12th-grade students cannot write proficiently. (NAEP, 2012)
- Some 1.1 million American students drop out of school every year. (EPE, 2012)
- For African-American and Hispanic students across the country, dropout rates are close to 40 percent, compared to the national average of 27 percent. (EPE, 2012)
Our public school students trail their peers in most other industrialized nations.
- After World War II, the United States had the #1 high school graduation rate in the world. Today, we have dropped to # 22 among 27 industrialized nations. (OECD, 2012)
- American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries.(OECD, 2012)
- By the end of the eighth grade, U.S. students are two years behind in math compared to their peers in other countries. (OECD, 2009)
- The U.S. ranks behind 13 other countries in terms of the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who have completed some college coursework. (OECD, 2012)
- American students tend to perform worse in math and science as they age, according to recent studies measuring fourth- and eighth-graders' academic achievement against other industrialized nations. Gaps with high performing countries like South Korea and Singapore are widening. (TIMSS, 2012)
Not enough students reach college, and many who do are not prepared.
- Less than half of American students – 46 percent – finish college. The U.S. ranks last among 18 countries measured on this indicator. (OECD, 2010)
- Only one in four high school students graduate ready for college in all four core subjects (English, reading, math and science), which is why a third of students entering college have to take remedial courses. (ACT, 2011)
- Only 4 percent of African American students and 11 percent of Hispanic students finish high school ready for college in their core subjects. (ACT, 2011)
- Two-thirds of college professors report that what is taught in high school does not prepare students for college. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
Many American children are not prepared to compete for careers or jobs in a 21st century knowledge-based economy.
- In order to earn a decent wage in today’s economy, most students will need at least some postsecondary education. (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Nearly 44 percent of dropouts under age 24 are jobless, and the unemployment rate of high school dropouts older than 25 is more than three times that of college graduates. (United States Department of Labor, 2012)
- Despite sustained unemployment, employers are finding it difficult to hire Americans with the skills their jobs require, and many expect this problem to intensify. (”Getting Ahead…” Business Roundtable, 2009, and “An Economy that Works,” McKinsey & Company, 2011)
- More than 75 percent of employers report that new employees with four-year college degrees lacked “excellent” basic knowledge and applied skills. (“Are They Really Ready to Work?” sponsored by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Accessed January 15, 2008)
- Nearly half of those who employ recent high school graduates said overall preparation was “deficient.” (“Are They Really Ready to Work?” sponsored by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Accessed January 15, 2008)
- The share of jobs in the U.S. economy needing a college degree will increase to 63 percent in the next decade. This will require 22 million new employees with college degrees. At the current pace, the nation will fall at least 3 million college degrees short. (A. Carnevale, N. Smith, and J. Strohl, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Economic Requirements Through 2018 (Washington, DC: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010)
- Over the course of his working life, an American male with a college degree can expect to earn nearly $675,000 more; an American female $340,000 more -– far more than in any other country. (OECD, 2012)
- Americans who earn a college degree make a 40 percent higher salary than those with just a high school diploma. (“Are They Really Ready to Work?” sponsored by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Accessed January 15, 2008)
- High school dropouts can expect to earn just 5 percent of what a typical graduate will make over the course of his lifetime. (College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, 2010)
Our economy is suffering.
- Five out of six high school graduates who aren’t attending college full-time are also not working full-time. Three out of five live with their parents or other relatives. (Heldrich, “Left Out”)
- Our annual GDP could increase by as much as $525 billion if we were to close the gap between white students and their black and Latino peers. (McKinsey Study the Economic Impact of Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools, 2009)
- Each cohort of dropouts costs the U.S. $192 billion in lost income and taxes. (Amos, 2008)
- America could see a combined savings and revenue of almost $8 billion each year if even just 5 percent of all dropouts stayed in school and attended college. (Amos, 2008)
Our national security is in jeopardy.
- Too many young people are not qualified to join the military, in part because they lack adequate education. (James Manyika, Susan Lund, Byron Auguste, Lenny Mendonca, Tim Welsh, and Sreenivas Ramaswamy, “An economy that works: Job creation and America’s future,” McKinsey & Company, 2011.)
- A third of high school graduates who are eligible to apply to join the military score too low on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery to be recruited.
- Sixty-three percent of life science and aerospace firms report shortages of qualified workers. (“Predicting readiness” (WS Sellman for the National Assessment Governing Board)
- In the defense and aerospace industries, many executives fear this problem will accelerate in the coming decade, when 60 percent of the existing workforce reaches retirement age. (Aerospace Industries Association: America’s Technical Workforce Crisis)
The land of opportunity is now the land of “tough luck.”
- For the first time, most Americans think it is unlikely that today’s youth will have a better life than their parents. (Gallup Poll, 2011)
- American social mobility is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Nearly two-thirds of children born to parents in the bottom income quintile remain stuck in the lowest two quintiles as adults. (Haskins, Ron (February 2008). "Education and Economic Mobility". In Isaacs, Julia B.; Sawhill, Isabel V.; Haskins, Ron. Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America. Brookings Institution.)
- Only 4 percent of Americans raised at the bottom of the economic ladder will rise to the top as adults. (“Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations; Pew Charitable Trusts, July, 2012.)
- Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans who grew up in middle class families will fall to the lower rungs as adults. (“Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations; Pew Charitable Trusts, July, 2012.)
- Public schools in other countries are more of a lever for social mobility that help children of all backgrounds realize their potential than they are in the U.S. (OECD, June, Education at a Glance, 2012)
- The health of a typical high school dropout, by age 18, is similar to that of a more educated person in his 40s. (College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, 2010)
- White men with four years of college live 14.2 years longer than black men who drop out of high school. White women with college degrees live 10.3 years longer than black female high school dropouts. (Olshansky, et al., 2012)
There is hope.
School systems are overcoming these challenges:
Learn more about the impact of The Broad Center graduates.
Learn more about The Broad Prize for Urban Education.