The study, sponsored by the journal Education Next and Harvard University, says the United States ranked 31st out of 56 countries in the percentage of students performing at a high level of accomplishment, a Harvard release reported.
The study shows only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced level in math, compared with 28 percent of Taiwanese students and more than 20 percent of students in Finland and South Korea.
In a state-by-state analysis of the percentage of students performing at advanced levels, the study found most U.S. states rank closer to developing countries than to developed countries.
Thirteen developed countries have more than twice the percentage of advanced students as does the U.S., including Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan and Austria, the study found.
"Public discourse has tended to focus on the need to address low achievement, particularly among disadvantaged students, and bring everyone up to a minimum level of proficiency," Paul E. Peterson of Harvard University said.
"As great as this need may be, there is no less need to lift more students, no matter their socioeconomic background, to high levels of educational accomplishment."