Sunday, September 25, 2011

Education - France, United States, OECD.

Education is becoming even more of a crucial issue in all western countries.  It is undoubtedly going to be one of the major topics in the presidential  campaign in France, and it is an ever more popular subject in the U.S.: next week, NBC willl feature education-related topics on different channels and programs across the country.

The popularity of education mirrors people's anxiety about the future, especially in this economic crisis. After all, a country's ability to grow and innovate is a result of its investment in"human capital".
Unfortunately, the debate is often tainted by ideology and false ideas, and politics.This is why it is good to have hard core data so the discussion can be on facts and not on whimsy impressions from a national perspective.
Last week's OECD's release of its annual report on Education, Education at a Glance is a great tool to use. Of course, education is more than statistics and numbers, and one must be careful with relying only on these results, but as you'll see, hard data can be an interesting indication when it comes to relative numbers, in international comparison and evolution over time.


An indeed, a comparison between France, the United States and the OECD countries shows some very surprising results you might not have expected.

Secondary Education enrollment 
(i.e. high school and junior high school/middle school or collège / lycéee)

The enrollment rate in secondary education of 15-19 year-olds is now fairly similar in France, the United States and the OECD countries on average, but with differences in age groups. Much of the advantage of the United States stems from a high educational level among older age  groups.


The global share of the population with upper secondary education : (Table A1.2a

All adult population
25-34 year-olds
55-64 year-olds
France :
70%
84%
55%
US
89%
88%
89%
OECD
73%
81%
61%


Unfortunately, the evolution of the rate of enrollment has been negative in the last 14 years in France whereas it has been positive in the OECD group and in the United States. 

Between 1995 and 2009, enrollment rate in secondary education of 15-19 year-olds went  from:
  • 89% to 84% in France (-5points) - slightly below the average of 21 EU countries (86%)
  • 72% to 82% in the U.S. (+10 points)
  • 73% to 82% in OECD on average (+9 points)
The difference in relative earnings between 25-64 yearl olds without a secondary education and those with a completion of secondary education is 23% in the OECD, but it is only 18% in France and 36% in the U.S.

The effect of socio-economic background

In France, a student’s predicted score in reading performance (PISa proficiency Level 2, age 15, 2009) is most heavily influenced by his or her socio-economic background.

Di­fference in reading performance between students from di­fferent socio-economic background is the greatest in France (along with New Zealand). The gap is more than 30% wider than the OECD average.
It is greater than the United-states, which is also slightly above average

Students of low socio-economic background have 2.37 more risks of poor reading scores on average in the OECD group but  it is higher in the U.S. (2.43) and even higher in France (2.68).

 The effect of immigration background

Students with an immigration background lag behind in their reading performances by 44 points on average in the OECD countries.
But the gap is much wider in France : 60 points and represents almost a full year of schooling while it is actually much lower in the US (22 points).
This is true even if you take into account the socio-economic background.

Students with an immigration background have 2.02 risks of poor reading scores on average in the OECD countries, but 2.19 in France and only 1.29 in the U.S

This number is nothing new. We talked about it last March.

Expenditure : 

Annual Expenditure for secondary education per student :
  • France (US$ 10 231), 12% more than OECD average.
  • US (US$ 12097)
  • OECD (US$ 8 972 )
But the change in expenditure per student in secondary education has increased much less in France (+7%) between 2000 and 2008 than in the rest of the OECD countries on average (+34%)

Expenditure on all levels of education as part of GDP in 2008 (Table B2.2) :
  • France 6%
  • US : 7.2%
  • OECD : 5.9% 
The proportion of GDP spent on education decreased in France by at least 0.4 % point between 2000 and 2008 while that of the US has increased by 0.3% point

 The decrease in French spending on education is even greater in its part of budget compared to the US or the OECD group :

Share of total public expenditure to education (Table B4.1.)

1995
2008
France :
11.5%
10.6% 
US
12.5%
13.8%
OECD
11.8%
12.91%

Even more noticeable, France is the only country where the public cost is greater than the benefit in secondary education The calculation includes the higher taxes and social contributions 
that flow from the higher income levels of those with secondary or tertiary qualifications so this may have to do with the tax system in France. 

The public cost and benefits for a man obtaining in US$

… a secondary education

…a tertiary education

France
-2500
64000
US
70500
194000
OECD
36000
91000

Even though a great part of the expenditure in education is due to the salaries and pensions of teachers, the cost in France is mostly lower or comparable with the rest of the OECD countries. 

Salary cost per student in US$, 2008 (Table B7)

Primary education
Lower secondary
Upper secondary
France
1603
2 356
3671
US
3090
2982
3038
OECD                     
2309
2991
3398

The reason why secondary education is more costly is that instruction time in France is higher than the OECD average and it is the highest in secondary schools (20%). - data unavailable for the US.  (Table D1)

Teachers’ salaries

Statutory teachers’ salaries in France are below the OECD average in primary and secondary education while they are much higher in the United States
All countries saw an increase in real term salaries for teachers ofa t least 1 years of experience between 1995 and 2009, except for France and Switzerland.
This is true for starting salary or salary after 15 years of experience

Teachers’ salaries rose, in real terms, in most countries with available data between 1995 and 2009. Notable exceptions are France and Switzerland, where there was a decline in teachers’ salaries in real terms during that period.

Most countries have seen  a decrease of the part of the GDP for teachers’ salary but only in France and Australia has it remained far inferior to the OECD average.


Starting salary in US$
Slaray after 15 years of experience in US$
Top level salary in US$
Primary Education
France
24006  
33 359 
49221
USA
36502
44788
51633
OECD
29767
38714
48154
Lower Secondary Education
France
27296
35856
51833
USA
36416
44614
54725
OECD
31687
41701
51317
Upper level education
France
27585
35145
52150
USA
36907
47977
54666
OECD
33044
43711
53641

At the same time, American teachers teach many more hours than the average of the OECD group at all levels.
The French teachers teach more hours in primary school but fewer hours in lower secondary schools and slightly fewer in upper secondary education. 
A word of caution is needed here :  as the OECD report put it :
"The proportion of working time spent teaching provides information on the amount of time available for activities such as lesson preparation, correction, in-service training and staff meetings. A large proportion of working time spent teaching may indicate that less time is devoted to tasks such as student assessment and lesson preparation."
Indeed, for instance American tests are often standardized quizes that tend to be quicker to grade than tests with a lot of writing. More importantly,, because test results are linked to funding, there is increase pressure on American teacher "to teach to the test", which does not necessarily make sense from a pedagogical perspective.
This has become such a problem that last Friday, president Obama announced a reform of the 'No Left Behind Act' to minimize the need for educators "to teach to the test"

Number of teaching hours per year (2009) (Table D4.2)

Primary Education       
Lower secondary education      
Upper scondary Education
France
918
642
628
US
1097
1068
1051
OECD                     
779
701
656

Another factor is that the work is concentrated over a shorter period in France : 

Number of weeks of instruction (Table D4.1)
  • France : 35
  • US : 38
  • OECD : 38
 Class size is another element showing the working conditions of teachers : 

Average class size in public schools, 2009 (Table D2.1)

Primary Education       
Lower secondary education      
France
22.6
24.3
US
23.8
23.2
OECD                      
21.4
23.5


Ratio of students to teaching staff*, 2009 (Table D2.2)

Primary education
Lower secondary
Upper secondary
France
19.7
14.9
9.6
US
14.8
14.3
15.1
OECD                     
16
13.5
13.5


*This ratio does not take into account the amount of instruction time for students compared to the length of a teacher’s working day, nor how much time teachers spend teaching. It therefore cannot be interpreted in terms of class size

The conclusion from these numbers is for you too draw. 

1 comment:

Uoptutorial said...

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