By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s the ultimate pop-quiz – a worldwide test of reading, math and basic problem-solving – and we did not do very well.

I’m not talking about kids here. I’m talking about you, the American adult, tested in a first of its kind study released by the U.S. Department of Education and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The results are in, showing a typical American’s literacy score falling below the international average.

In fact we were beaten by adults in 12 countries including Japan, Canada and Australia.

Beyond reading and math, the test also measured skills like the ability to sort email or to compare food expiration dates.

Apparently we’re lucky to tie our shoes in the morning. And the scary part here is that the youngest people who took the test performed the worst.

This is not necessarily a statement on our education system. But researchers do point to the economy. Countries with some of the worst economic conditions underperformed on the test.

And for countries that fared best – like Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands – the study credits continuing education and on-the-job training which many Americans don’t get.

We have an information-based economy in this country and nowhere is that more true than right here in Massachusetts. That’s why the local business community is pushing for immigration reform to attract more skilled workers to fill open jobs.

So when we look for ways to make our economy stronger, maybe we should start at school.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joemathieuwbz


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