International Basic Education Statistics

Color Coding Key
GREEN Ranked 1st for statistic
RED Ranked last for statistic

Although the percent of GDP the United States spends on education is moderate in relations to the other countries, its Science and Math scores rank relatively poorly.

  Gross enrollment ratio   Attainment

Primary Enrollment % Secondary Enrollment % Percent of GDP spent Math Reading Science
Australia 105 136 5.1 504 512 521
Canada 98 103 5.5 518 523 525
Denmark 101 125 8.7 500 496 498
France 107 110 5.9 495 505 499
Germany 100 101 5.1 514 508 524
Italy 99 99 4.5 485 490 494
Japan 102 102 3.8 536 538 547
Netherlands 106 130 6.0 523 511 522
Norway 99 111 6.9 489 504 495
Sweden 102 98 7.0 478 483 485
United Kingdom 109 95 5.6 494 499 514
United States 98 94 5.5 481 498 497


Primary enrollment View Graphical Data

Secondary enrollment View Graphical Data

Enrollment, all levels: UN Development Programme (web link), Human Development Report 2015, for most recent year. Total enrollment in primary and secondary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population for the same level of education (and thus the occasional >100% figures). (The HDR 2015 does not specify years for individual countries. Instead it marks the above span for all 185+ countries in the study.) For previous HDR reports, check here.

View Graphical Data

Percent of GDP spent. World Development Indicators by World Bank, for most recent year (2009-11). Includes government spending on educational institutions (both public and private), education administration, and transfers/subsidies for private entities (students/households and other privates entities).

PISA: OECD Programme for International Student Assessment

Math View Graphical Data

Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Math scale in PISA 2012

Reading View Graphical Data

Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Reading scale in PISA 20012

Science View Graphical Data

Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Science scale in PISA 2012


PISA individual country reports

OECD also released report titled "Lessons from PISA 2012 for the United States" and notes the following:

  1. Socio-economic factors make up for 15% of the U.S.' variation in PISA test performance.
  2. The U.S., a leader in GDP per capita, could spend more on education.
  3. Inequality is holding the U.S. back. The U.S. should recognize the discrepancies that social, demographic, and economic factors (which is quite profound compared to its peer countries) play on their education performance and focus education expenditures to remediate such discrepancies.

OECD also wrote country profiles for France (available only in French), Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom, among other OECD countries not studied here.

"Why other countries teach better," The Editorial Board

December 17, 2013, New York Times.

Article sites teacher training, school funding, and measures to combat elitism as reasons why many Asian and European countries not only test better than U.S. in education (especially Math), but are also widening that gap in performance.

"World can teach U.S. lessons about fixing broken schools," Randi Weingarten

May 15, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle.

As the United States hovers all too closely to the OECD's average Reading, Math, and Science scores, Weingarten suggests that the model practiced by the leaders (China, South Korea, Finland, and Singapore) should be followed. This model includes better measures for appreciating and respecting teachers. 46% of teachers in the U.S. quit in the first five years out of frustration for lack of appreciation and support.


percent in preschool, ages 2 to 4.