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Although education holds implications for economic growth, scientific progress, and political participation, the United States remains on the lower end of educational quality compared to other industrial and first-world nations. Despite substantial efforts by the American government to mend this issue, reforms have yielded minimal improvement in results. Identifying the reasons for the declining nature of US education is essential in understanding how to improve the current academic state. Why has there been a decline in education quality in America compared to other first-world countries since World War II? In order to distinguish the characteristics correlating with low-achievement in the US, I examined cross-cultural comparisons between America and top-achieving nations. Once the absent or abnormal markers of American education were identified, I investigated possible roots through economic, social, and political perspectives. Results suggest the decline in American education is the consequence of lingering effects of the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Standards Movement. These major societal events created a state of argument between levels of government and their partisan groups. Their products—misled reforms, drains of educational funding, poor curriculum decisions, and attempts at privatization—have contributed to poor academic achievement. Additionally, there are implications for the treatment of teachers and lacking precedence for core studies among the United States general population affecting academic success. With the knowledge of the issues and their roots facing American schooling today, the road to a more holistic and effective treatment of United States education becomes much more clear.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Education, International Studies


Education, Academic Achievement, International Comparison, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Reform, Curriculum, Privatization, Teacher Quality


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Sociology | Education Economics | Education Policy | International and Comparative Education | Science and Mathematics Education

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Faye Prichard


© The Author(s)

Why the American Superpower has Mediocre Educational Rankings