National and International Education Statistics

United States and international statistics highlight a major crisis in education. We encourage you to view our tables of U.S. education statistics and international education statistics for a more comprehensive summary of the millions of students who have not achieved even basic academic skills in math, reading, and science; but the following statements should also help to evidence the alarming percentage of students who academically perform below expectations. What’s more, students who live in conditions of poverty are at even greater risk of academic failure.

Did you know, for example…

33% of elementary-aged students in the United States cannot read at even a Basic Level, and 66% cannot read at a Proficient Level. These statistics are essentially the same for older students; and of the 52% of fourth grade students living in conditions of poverty (i.e., those receiving subsidized lunch), 48% of them read below a Basic Level and 82% read below a Proficient Level. National Center for Education Statistics (2011)

An essential component of reading instruction in any language is reading fluency, which is a necessary skill for reading comprehension (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHHD], 2000). However, 40% of fourth-grade students are non-fluent readers. Daane et al. (2005)

27% of eighth grade students perform below a Basic Level in mathematics, and 65% perform below a Proficient Level. In science, the statistics are even poorer: 35% of eighth graders perform below a Basic Level and 68% perform below a Proficient Level. National Center for Education Statistics (2011)

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy estimates that approximately 30 million adults (one in seven) in the U.S. are functionally illiterate in reading skills, with 46 million functionally illiterate in mathematics skills. Also, 43%, 34%, and 55% of adults perform below an intermediate level in the key literacy domains: prose, document, and quantitative, respectively. In each domain, only 13% of adults are proficient. Kutner et al. (2007)

Internationally, on average, teachers reported that 17% of their students were in need of remedial reading instruction. However, in nearly every country, the percentage of students needing remedial reading instruction exceeded the percentage who actually received remedial instruction. Mullis et al. (2007)

Over 770 million people around the world over age 15 do not possess basic literacy skills, suggesting that teaching students early to read and write proficiently in their heritage or native language is a global imperative for researchers and policy makers alike. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] (2005)



How does the Helps Education Fund address these problems?

Visit our projects and resources pages for some examples. Also learn more about how poor quality in education negatively impacts a nation’s economy and society.

 

References

Armbuster, B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2001). Put reading first: The research building blocks for teaching children to read (Kindergarten through Grade 3). Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

Daane, M. C., Campbell, J. R., Grigg, W. S., Goodman, M. J., and Oranje, A. (2005). Fourth-grade students reading aloud: NAEP 2002 special study of oral reading. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Kutner, M., Greenberg, E., Jin, Y., Boyle, B., Hsu, Y., and Dunleavy, E. (2007). Literacy in Everyday Life: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NCES 2007–480). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Mullis, I., Martin, M. O., Kennedy, A. M., & Foy, P. (2007). IEA's progress in international reading literacy study in primary school in 40 countries. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center. http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/pirls2006/intl_rpt.html

National Center for Education Statistics (2011). The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2011 (NCES 2012–458). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Retrieved June, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2011/2012458.pdf

National Center for Education Statistics (2011). The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2011 (NCES 2012–457). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Retrieved June, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2011/2012457.pdf

National Center for Education Statistics (2012). The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2011 (NCES 2012–465). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Retrieved June, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2011/2012465.pdf

NAEP Data Explorer (2012). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Retrieved June, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Reports of the subgroups [NIH Publication No. 00-4769]. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved July 20, 2011 from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/report.htm

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2005). Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Paris, France.