Duncan: Test results show 'stagnation'

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan called test results released on Tuesday showing U.S. students at or below international averages a “picture of educational stagnation," according to multiple reports. 

About 500,000 students in 65 countries took the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) last year. 

Teens from Shanghai, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore received the highest scores.

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U.S. students failed to reach the top 20 rankings in math, science or reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which organizes the data. About 6,000 random students from public and private schools across the country took the test.

Poland, Vietnam and Ireland came out ahead of the U.S. in several areas. Russia, the Slovak Republic and Portugal received higher scores in math than the U.S.

These results, Duncan said, were at "odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive work force in the world,” according to the Associated Press

"We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators," Duncan said.

The test, which began in 2000, is distributed every three years to 15-year-old students. U.S. scores have remained largely flat since it started.