WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. high school students are falling further behind their global peers in mathematics and are treading water in reading and science, an ongoing survey on international education said on Tuesday.

The triennial report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that 15-year-old U.S. students ranked 40th in the world in math last year out of 72 countries or cities.

The U.S. average math score of 470 was down 17 points from 2009, and 20 points below the average of the countries taking part in the survey, known as the Program for International Student Assessment.

"We’re losing ground – a troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world," U.S. Education Secretary John King said in a statement.


Six percent of U.S. students who took the OECD math test had scores in the highest proficiency range, but 29 percent did not meet baseline proficiency.

Singapore topped the world rankings in the computer-based quiz taken by about 540,000 students. The Southeast Asian nation was followed by Japan, Estonia, Finland and Canada.

The 5,700 U.S. students tested ranked 25th in science literacy and 24th in reading literacy, in line with previous surveys. The U.S. scores were consistent with the survey's average.

A U.S. bright spot was Massachusetts. The state's reading score would have tied for second behind Singapore, and its science showing tied for sixth.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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