While local jurisdictions blame their local school systems for low performance, the problem has become endemic in the USA.

"Our scores are stagnant. We're not seeing any improvement for our 15-year-olds," said Jack Buckley, commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

"Our ranking is slipping because a lot of these other countries are improving," said Buckley.

Counterparts in other countries, particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian provinces or countries soared ahead, according to results of the highly regarded international exam just released.

See KIDS COUNT RATES WV SCHOOLS AMONG WORST IN NATION - 73% 4th Graders Not Reading Proficient, 79% 8th Graders Not Math Proficient

On the math portion, 28 countries tested better than the United States. Aside from the Asia powerhouses of Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea, Japan, the United States was outscored by a string of European countries including Latvia, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany and Slovenia.

While U.S. teenagers scored slightly above average in reading, their scores were average in science and below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

The test scores offer fresh evidence for those who argue that the United States is losing ground to competitors in the global market and others who say a decade's worth of school reform under No Child Left Behind has done little to improve educational outcomes.

The top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools has failed to improve the quality of American public education," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Shanghai dominated the PISA exam, occupying the top slot in all three subjects, focusing on teacher preparation and investing in its most challenging classrooms, among other things.

Germany, Poland and Vietnam were among several countries that made significant improvements in their test scores while Finland, which had been a top-scorer in the past several exams, dropped from its elite perch.

The test, administered every three years by the OECD, measures performance on math, reading and science. PISA is designed to test whether students can apply what they've learned in school to real-life problems. Approximately 510,000 15-year-olds in public and private schools took the paper-and-pencil exam in 2012.

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