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American Millennials' Skills Are Lagging Behind the Rest of the World

Feb 18, 2015

Young Americans are lagging behind many of their peers across the world in the major skills required to compete in the global labor market, according to a new study that shows them performing poorly in literacy, numeracy, and computer-age problem-solving skills.

The study, by the Education Testing Service Center for Research on Human Capital and Education, shows young Americans fared poorly compared to other countries studied, tying for last in math skills with Italy and Spain, and landing in the bottom of the pack in problem-solving, along with Ireland, Poland and the Slovak Republic. Americans also had lower literacy scores than 15 out of 22 countries, only doing better than young Italians and Spaniards, Education Week reports.

The U.S. also had the widest achievement gap between the top 10% and the bottom 10% in performance, with 72% of young adults with a high school diploma or less not meeting minimum proficiency levels in numeracy.

"To put it bluntly, we no longer share the growth and prosperity of the nation the way we did in the decades between 1940 and 1980," the authors wrote, later adding: "The disparity in private (as well as the public) investments made on behalf of children between different levels of [socioeconomic status] can be substantial, lasting, and self-perpetuating."

The ETS study compared millennials in 22 industrialized countries, including Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and France.

[Education Week]

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