Global data set on education quality (1965–2015)
This paper presents the largest globally comparable panel database of education quality. The database includes 163 countries and regions over 1965–2015. The globally comparable achievement outcomes were constructed by linking standardized, psychometrically-robust international and regional achievement tests. The paper contributes to the literature in the following ways: (1) it is the largest and most current globally comparable data set, covering more than 90 percent of the global population; (2) the data set includes 100 developing areas and the most developing countries included in such a data set to date—the countries that have the most to gain from the potential benefits of a high-quality education; (3) the data set contains credible measures of globally comparable achievement distributions as well as mean scores; (4) the data set uses multiple methods to link assessments, including mean and percentile linking methods, thus enhancing the robustness of the data set; (5) the data set includes the standard errors for the estimates, enabling explicit quantification of the degree of reliability of each estimate; and (6) the data set can be disaggregated across gender, socioeconomic status, rural/urban, language, and immigration status, thus enabling greater precision and equity analysis. A first analysis of the data set reveals a few important trends: learning outcomes in developing countries are often clustered at the bottom of the global scale; although variation in performance is high in developing countries, the top performers still often perform worse than the bottom performers in developed countries; gender gaps are relatively small, with high variation in the direction of the gap; and distributions reveal meaningfully different trends than mean scores, with less than 50 percent of students reaching the global minimum threshold of proficiency in developing countries relative to 86 percent in developed countries. The paper also finds a positive and significant association between educational achievement and economic growth. The data set can be used to benchmark global progress on education quality, as well as to uncover potential drivers of education quality, growth, and development.