ON-Lion Letter
A January report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, The High Cost of Low Educational Performance:  The Long-Run Economic Impact of Improving PISA Outcomes, finds that even modest and achievable gains in student learning yield large increases in countries' gross domestic product (GDP) over the long run.  

The study was co-authored by Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann.  Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow in Education at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a member of Hoover's Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, which is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.  Woessmann is a professor at the University of Munich and a Hoover visiting fellow.

"Relatively small improvements in students' educational performance can have extraordinary impacts on a nation's future economic well-being," according to Hanushek.

The report examines three scenarios to estimate what the long-term effects of educational improvement, as measured by scores on the highly regarded Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), would be on a nation's GDP:

•  Scenario 1:  Increase average scores on PISA by 25 points over 20 years.  This relatively modest goal -- less than Poland achieved in just six years, from 2000 to 2006 -- would result in an increase in the U.S. GDP of $40 trillion over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010.

•  Scenario 2:  Bring each country to the average level of Finland, the highest-performing country on PISA.  Raising U.S. scores to that level would increase GDP by $100 trillion over the lifetime of a child born in 2010.

•  Scenario 3:  Bring all students up to a minimum skill level.  Although the U.S. average score exceeds the PISA minimum level (400 on a 0-to-1,000 scale), about 19% of U.S. students perform below those levels.  Simply raising the cognitive skills of those students would add $72 trillion to GDP over the lifetime of a child born in 2010.
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