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OECD report prompts generational navel gazing in US

by on October 9, 2013

In the USA, The Wall Street Journal lamented that while “US baby boomers held their own …. younger people fell behind their peers”.  A quote within the article from a Harvard academic sums up the situations as “we had the lead and we blew it” suggesting a particular attitude towards inter-country competitiveness.

In Canada, there seemed to be more satisfaction with the literacy outcomes but concerns about the maths results: “Canadian adults match global peers in reading, fall short in math”.  In contrast to the US reports which emphasised generational differences this report in the Canadian press offered a regional breakdown across the country and in talking about the results for adults did not offer a breakdown of the 16-65 age range involved in the tests.

The Australians seemed similarly content on literacy and concerned about maths while being keen to highlight that “Australia’s ranking was higher than both the US and the UK for literacy and numeracy”

In England (as Wales and Scotland did not participate) there was no hiding the reports findings on results that put the England near the bottom of the table particularly for young people (16-24 within the survey) as the Guardian headline proclaimed: “England’s young people near bottom of global league table for basic skills”  Concern was particularly since “young adults in England (aged 16-24) rank 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy … This compares unfavourably with the adult population as a whole: English adults aged 16-65 rank 11th for literacy and 17th for numeracy”.  Unsurprisingly this prompted political debate in reference to the recently announced ‘earn or learn’ approach to youth unemployment

Meanwhile English news media in Japan reported their position at the top of the table: “Japanese adults are way ahead in math and literacy skills than their peers in 23 other countries”

A summary of the OECD findings can be viewed below with more details available including a technical report on the methodology – from the OECD website



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