America Tests Below the International Average on OECD Tests

Younger Americans have lost their competitive edge in the international market.

Happy Rogers, front, discusses her Mandarin examination paper with her classmate on Nov. 8, 2011, at Nanyang Primary School in Singapore.
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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a study Tuesday showing Americans lag behind other developed countries in literacy and mathematics.

OECD's ultimate goal is to use evidence based analysis to determine how education and new skills will change employment perspective and economic growth.

The OECD surveyed more than 150,000 adults ages 16 to 65 in 24 different countries. The tests given focused on three major subjects; reading, problem solving and mathematics. The results were disconcerting with America ranking 16 out of 23 for literacy, 21 out of 23 in math, and 17 out of 19 in problem solving.

[READ: New Report Shows U.S. Lagging on Education Indicators]

The test revealed while the baby boomer generation (ages 55-65) had the same math score as the international average, the younger generations were at the heels of their international peers with large margins in between.

In literacy, ages 16-34, still lagged behind their international peers but there was less of a margin in between.

"These findings should concern us all," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release. "They show our education system hasn't done enough to help Americans compete — or position our country to lead — in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills."

[MORE: Don’t Let Teacher Evaluation Models Stifle Education Innovation ]

Other countries, like South Korea seem to be improving with subsequent generations. For example, while Koreans aged 55-65 who took the test were below their peers, Koreans age 16-24 were the second best in their peer category, lagging only behind the Japanese.

"We had a lead and we blew it," Joseph Fuller, who used to study competitiveness and is now a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, told the Huffington Post. He said America's glory days of education were during the baby boomers lives when America was one of the leading countries in education and technology.

"We have a substantial percentage of the work force that does not have the basic aptitude to continue to learn and to make the most out of new technologies," Fuller said.

Even U.S. citizens that held graduate degrees were behind the average of their peers.

Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, said according to the trajectory that these tests have revealed, "we will see more and more people that are not employed and they will be a huge drain on the economy in terms of entitlements."

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