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American Students Work Harder Than Their International Peers … Outside of the Classroom

The 2001-2002 State of Our Nation’s Youth study found that 43 percent of all high school students work a job outside school. The average percentage for other nations is about 18 percent. Each year, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans conducts a telephone survey of America’s young people between the ages of 14 and 18. The objective of its survey is to learn what’s going on with high school students so policymakers can better address their needs.

While some students work to supplement their family’s income or pay for college, the vast majority of working teens (63 percent) work because they appreciate having money of their own. This extra spending money does not come without a price and usually cuts into time that should be spent doing homework. For example, the Third International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS), where low exams scores of American students have caused great concern, found that 55 percent of American 12th graders work three hours or more on a normal school day.

According to a report from the Employment Policy Foundation during the summer of 2000, teen employment was at its highest rate in four decades. A report from the Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor included statistics that revealed the teenage employment rate for June 2000 was at its highest rate since 1953. Of the 16-to-19–year-old population, 51.6 percent held jobs. This means that more of our students are working now than in the last 40 years.

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans website

Third International Math and Science Study

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