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U.S. students ranked 36th, 28th and 24th out of 65 countries on math, science and reading tests, respectively

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the nation’s 4th grade students cannot read at a “proficient” level (i.e., demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter), and approximately one-third of students (32 percent) are unable to read at a “basic” level (i.e., partial mastery of fundamental skills).

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. 8th graders are less than “proficient” (i.e., demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter) in math skills for their age group, and roughly one-third of 8th graders (29 percent) have less than “basic” (i.e., partial mastery of fundamental skills) math skills. 

Students who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times more likely to fail to graduate on time from high school than those who read at or above their grade level.

Among full-time young adult workers, high school dropouts earn roughly 20 percent less than their peers with a high school diploma or the equivalent — a gap that grows with higher levels of educational attainment.

81 percent of American high school students graduate with a diploma within four years, up from 73 percent in 2005.

66 percent of high school graduates enroll in college immediately after graduation — with 24 percent enrolling in two-year institutions and 42 percent enrolling in four-year institutions.

59 percent of students matriculating into a four-year college or university graduate within six years, compared to a 29 percent graduation rate (within three years) for students who enter an associate degree or certificate program at a two-year institution.

The number of student loan borrowers increased by 89 percent, and the average student loan balance increased by 77 percent between 2004 and 2014.

Aggregate student loan debt has more than tripled since 2004 and now stands at nearly $1.2 trillion — the largest non-mortgage debt balance in the country. Aside from mortgages, student loan debt is now the most widely held type of debt in the country

Approximately one out of every six student loan borrowers (17 percent) was either delinquent or in default as of the fourth quarter of 2014.

The share of jobs requiring post-secondary education and training (i.e., any education or training beyond a high school diploma or equivalent) increased from 28 percent to 59 percent between 1973 and 2010. By 2020, it is expected to reach 65 percent.

The unemployment rate for Americans with a high school diploma or the equivalent (but no post-secondary degree) averaged 6.0 percent in 2014, compared to 3.2 percent for those with at least a bachelor’s degree. 

The United States ranks 23rd out of 30 OECD countries in the number of science and engineering graduates that make up the young adult workforce (workers ages 25–34).

Approximately 28 percent of U.S. bachelor’s degree students and 20 percent of associate degree students choose a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) major at some point within six years of matriculating, while the attrition rate for STEM majors is 48 percent for bachelor’s degree students and 69 percent for associate degree students.