The US has the lowest secondary enrollment numbers; post-pandemic, global exam scores in science, reading and mathematics scores have dropped in most countries, but in the US, math scores still remain below the advanced democracies.

Education: Primary

GreenRanked first for statistic
RedRanked last for statistic
 Gross EnrollmentAttainment
Primary Enrollment %Secondary Enrollment %% GDP SpentScienceReadingMath
United Kingdom1021135.3500494489
United States981015.4499504465


Gross Enrollment (columns 1 – 3): The World Bank

Primary enrollment
Percent of primary school-age population (2021)
*value for Japan from 2020
Secondary enrollment 
Percent of secondary school-age population (2021)
*value for Japan from 2020
Percent of GDP Spent
Government Expenditure on Education (2021). Current, capital and transfer spending on education, expressed as a percentage of GDP.
*value for United States from 2020

Attainment (columns 4 – 6): OECD, Program for International Student Assessment

Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Science scale of the PISA 2022.
Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Reading scale of the PISA 2022.
Mean scores for 15 year olds on the Math scale of the PISA 2022.


“The School Issues We’re Battling Over Aren’t the Ones That Matter”

Nicholas Kristof
March 6, 2024.
New York Times. “We get distracted by these culture wars, but what we should focus on is that only 32 percent of America’s fourth graders are proficient at reading… Likewise, American children’s math skills are dismal by global standards. In the PISA international math test for 15-year-olds, American students rank far behind the leaders (Singapore, Macau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea) and also well behind peer countries like Canada, the Netherlands, Britain and Poland.”

“Math Scores Dropped Globally, but the U.S. Still Trails Other Countries”

Sarah Mervosh
December 5, 2023.
New York Times. “The math performance of U.S. teenagers has sharply declined since 2018, with scores lower than 20 years ago, and with American students continuing to trail global competitors…In the first comparable global results since the coronavirus pandemic, 15-year-olds in the United States scored below students in similar industrialized democracies like the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany, and well behind students in the highest-performing countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Estonia — continuing an underperformance in math that predated the pandemic.”

Page updated 3/24/2024.