"The most important civil rights battleground today is education," New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Sept. 12, "and, likewise, the most crucial struggle against poverty is the one fought in schools."
But what, exactly, does educational opportunity mean? Last week, the OECD released a study investigating just that. "Education at a Glance 2012" examines potential indicators affecting student performance including per-pupil spending, public and private investment, teacher pay, and tuition costs.
But do metrics per-pupil spending directly translate to dramatic gains in educational opportunity? Not necessarily, according to the OECD study. If it did, the list of nations that provide the most upward mobility might include big spending nations like Luxembourg ($19,324.09 per pupil), Switzerland ($15,644.94 per pupil), Norway ($13,882.88 per pupil), Austria ($12,588.60 per pupil), and the United States ($12,550.24 per pupil).
Instead, the nations with students most likely to exceed their parents when it comes to educational achievement include:
- Czech Republic
- Slovak Republic
What can educational organizations learn from these data? Simply put, that qualitative factors such as poverty, democracy, and open economies matter -- sometimes more than dollars and cents.
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