The performance of American teenagers in reading and mathematics has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with their peers across the globe.

And the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening. Although the top quarter of American students have improved their performance on the examination since 2012, the bottom 10th percentile lost ground, according to an analysis by the National Centre for Education Statistics, a federal agency.

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