The latest International Reading, Math and Science Test scores show that American students aren't even in the top ten globally.
The international report card showed China leading the pack, indicating a future far beyond factories for that country and much of Asia.
"Nobody wants to be the shoe manufacturer of the world. Everybody wants to be in the scientific and technology sector," said the Education at Asia Society's Vivien Stewart.
Nearly 500,000 15-year-olds from all over the world took the exam. The test results aren't a total surprise. Chinese students attend 41 more days of school a year and some attend classes on the weekends.
- In math, Shanghai, China; Singapore, Hong Kong South Korea and Taiwan topped the list. The U.S. placed 30th on the list.
- In science, Shanghai, China was again at the top, followed by Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The U.S. was 20th on the list.
- In reading, Shanghai, China again led the top five and the U.S. falls in at 17th place.
In 1960, America faced a global turning point. President John F. Kennedy was frustrated that the Soviets seemed to be winning the space race when they placed the first satellite named Sputnik in orbit around the earth.
But less than a decade later, responding to Kennedy's call, America put a man on the moon.
"Fifty years later, our generation's Sputnik is back," President Obama said Monday, hinting that America needed to return to the innovation and technical resolve that put a man on the moon ahead of the Soviets.
"For me, it's a massive wake-up call," Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Washington Post Monday. "Have we ever been satisfied as Americans being average in anything? Is that our aspiration? Our goal should be absolutely to lead the world in education."
Testing was conducted in the United States from September to November 2009, including 5,233 students from 165 public and private schools, randomly selected.