Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2002

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has turned into a valuable source of comparative international education data. Its latest 376-page update is chockablock with important information, too much of which signals trouble for the United States. When it comes to high school graduation, for example, 9 OECD countries now surpass us. Checking rates of entry into university-style postsecondary education, we see a similar pattern. It was once the case that, while other countries outpaced the U.S. in the quality of their education programs, we led the world in quantity, especially in number of years of schooling. That's still true among the older population (e.g. we have the greater percentage of high school graduates in the 55-64 year old cohort) but no longer among the young. This OECD report also addresses dozens of other issues, including literacy, math and science attainments among 15 year olds - the U.S. is middling here - and a wide variety of gauges of education investments, outcomes and rates of return. There are also data on teacher-student ratios - the U.S. is again near the middle - and school policies and resources. Though often presented in dense tables and laborious prose, this report contains a trove of information that any serious policy wonk will want close at hand. You can order a (pricey $49) hard copy at or download a (bulky but free) version by surfing to (If you choose the latter option, we recommend napping while it downloads!).

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