Report Shows US Students’ Skills Falling Behind Others


American students are more educated than ever before, but they seem to be learning less when it comes to literacy, math, and job skills.

According to a new report by the ETS Center for Research on Human Capital and Education, there is a growing gap between poor and rich workers in the United States, and the US is in jeopardy of losing its competitiveness in the global market.

The study compared US millennials ages 16-34 to the millennial age group of other countries in literacy and numeracy skills.

“The analysis found that more than half of U.S. millennials lack proficiency in applying reading and math skills to the workplace.”

Mikhail Zinshteyn of Education Writers Association writes that one half of US millennials scored before the threshold of indicates proficiency in literacy. Out of scores of 500, the US scored 274 in literacy, just below the average of 282, and 255 in numeracy, 20 points below the 275 average.

“Perhaps more unsettling, the report indicates that the literacy and numeracy skills of U.S. workers have largely declined compared to U.S. workers in the labor force two decades ago.”

It would seem there is a correlation between the millennials’ scores and the education that their parents received, and it is suggested that the millennials scores would likely be much lower if not for the higher college education completion rates they have received over the previous generation.

Outside of numeracy and literacy skills, college graduates in the US lack critical job skills. Jeffrey J. Selingo of the Washington Post writes that job skills students lack include “problem-solving, decision-making and the ability to prioritize tasks.

“There is a growing body of evidence that what students learn — or more likely don’t learn — in college makes them ill-prepared for the global job market.”

Students have had decisions made for them instead of having to make their own decisions. With their hands being held throughout the college process, they haven’t had the experience to learn these real world skills.

“Google has found it is increasingly hiring people without college degrees because the signal of the credential is no longer as clear as it used to be that someone is job ready”

A study of results of a test by the Council for Aid to Education that was done on 32,000 students at 169 colleges and universities determined that 40% of seniors that graduate fail to have obtain complex working skills while in college. The test was given to freshman and seniors to measures their gains of “critical thinking, writing and communication, and analytical reasoning” skills.

There wasn’t much difference difference in what was gained in those skills from freshman year to senior year. But a strong component that made a difference in skills gained was college major; math and science majors did better than those who studied in “business and helping/service fields.”

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