Interpreting the OECD Education Results

Today’s big news: According to a new OECD study, Shanghai’s 15-year olds turned in top scores globally:

The province of Shanghai, China, took part for the first time and scored higher in reading than any country. It also topped the table in maths and science. More than one-quarter of Shanghai’s 15-year-olds demonstrated advanced mathematical thinking skills to solve complex problems, compared to an OECD average of just 3%.

That’s very impressive. Very.  The U.S. was around the OECD average in reading and science, and just below average in math.  All other things being equal, it would be better if our scores were higher, much higher.

This will take a long time to fix. However, the  short-run implication is clear:  American kids coming out of college right now are facing ever-toughening global competition. The question: What sets of skills are most likely to be in global and U.S. demand?


  1. Not “reading” and math, that’s for sure. There is an education craze every so often that has nothing to do with what’s really needed: right now it’s math/science for engineering. But the truth is that we only need a small amount of engineers, we need a ton more people with soft skills and some ability to reason. Education is horrendously structured all around the world but the rigid systems in China and India are some of the worst, because they turn hordes of kids off on learning with their horrible cramming and needless complexity. Ironically, the lack of emphasis on education in the US produces the best results, because education is fundamentally broken.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: