Study: Narrowing achievement gap would add $10 trillion to GDP by 2050

One study after another has shown a wide educational achievement gap between the poorest and wealthiest children in the United States. This prompted researchers at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a group focused on narrowing inequality, to study and conclude that if America could improve education performance for the average student, everyone would benefit.

The U.S.  ranks behind more than 33 advanced industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development when it comes to math and science scores. The study used scores from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, a test used around the world to measure and compare achievement.

America ranks behind countries such as Korea, Poland and Slovenia in the 24th spot.

Elimination of the achievement gap in the U.S. will boost the economy — but this requires raising the country’s average score to 1,080.  The average combined score for the U.S. is 978, and the O.E.C.D average is 995.

If the U.S. could move up a few notches to number 19 – so the average American score would match the O.E.C.D. average – it would add 1.7 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next 35 years, according to estimates by the Washington Center. This could lead to approximately $900 billion in higher government revenue.

If the U.S. scores matched Canada, number 7 of the O.E.C.D. scale, America’s gross domestic product would increase by 6.7 percent. After taking inflation into account, this is a cumulative increase of $10 trillion by 2050.

The achievement gap in America is a pressing issue, and it is certainly something we have to hone in on to eliminate. I hope to see our country’s O.E.C.D. ranking improve in the near future so we can narrow, and eventually close, the achievement gap and benefit from the boost in the economy too.

Click here to read all our posts concerning the Achievement Gap.

0 Replies to “Study: Narrowing achievement gap would add $10 trillion to GDP by 2050”

  1. We need to improve the U.S. rankings so we see this boost in the economy – and even more so, the reduced education gap. It’s amazing what a difference we could see in our country through making those improvements.

  2. It’s shocking to me how far our country lags behind other advanced countries — we are leaps and bounds behind Canada. I’m not sure why that’s the case. I feel it’s URGENT to diminish our achievement gap, and unfortunately, it seems like people talk about it but nothing ever really changes.

  3. Seeing all of these numbers in one place is really eye opening. I really hope to see a decreased education gap soon so we can begin to reap the benefits of a better economy, among many other things.

    1. Simply suggesting that improving education for all may be necessary but certainly will not be sufficient to grow the economy. When the PISA and TIMSS scores for the top twelve performing countries are linked directly to the GDP per capita the correlation is negative for mathematics and very low for science. In fact the correlation is negative for USA because it has the highest GDP per capita and one of the lowest achievement scores in OECD assessments. So, surely we have to ask exactly what does grow the economy? If we think about it, the economy relies heavily on a core of very well educated STEM professionals AND entrepreneurs who may not have professional qualifications but have real talent in growing their business and making money. Some of these individuals are known worldwide but there are thousands of small businesses that contribute to economic growth run by school underachievers for whom the one size fits all model of education didn’t work. A major issue is to what extent current education programmes meet actual and future employment needs. What USA is not doing is developing essential skills for the future such as ensuring students, at all ages, are given opportunities, and are required, to think in depth about anything. This is a transferable skill and it really doesn’t matter whether it is mathematical or any other kind of problem. For this , of course, they need to develop tenacity. Sticking to a challenging but achievable task to completion enables them to develop self esteem and boosts confidence. The truth is we are unable to predict what knowledge will be required in twenty or so year’s time so content , in itself, is not so important as developing the skills required to learn independently and with others. This means that students must learn to communicate well in all modes. If these skills are developed along with a love of learning then their future is likely to be much brighter in all respects. The fact that other nations students are drilled to learn and pass exams at a higher level is a plus for politicians but, without the opportunity and ability to apply their knowledge, is not a plus for the nation’s people. No child left behind has become most children left behind because USA expects too much remembered facts and learning and insufficient thinking and applying.

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