Put aside for a moment rising challenges from China and India. Fifteen-year-olds from Slovenia and Estonia, too, are beating American teenagers in math and science, according to the findings of a major international exam released last week. Americans scored lower, on average, than did teenagers from 16 developed nations in science and 23 in math—according to the results of the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment tests.
Officials say the results don't show that U.S. high schoolers are doing worse but rather that other countries' students are making progress faster. In science, U.S. students posted an average score of 489, compared with the developed-country average of 500 (on a scale of 1 to 1,000). U.S. students scored 24 points below the average of 498 in math. Finland scored the highest of any country in science, while Taiwan led in math.