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More Americans than ever are pursuing higher education, but a new study suggests young Americans still lag behind global competitors when their skills are put to the test.

A recent study from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found American young adults lagging behind their international peers in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills, according to U.S. News & World Report.

"Indeed, while millennials are often portrayed in the media as being on track to be our best educated generation ever, their skill levels are comparatively weak,” authors of the report wrote.

Among the trends researchers found was more than half of millennials lack the ability to apply reading and math skills in a work environment. American millennials were tied with Spain and Italy for last place in their ability to use numeracy, averaging only 255 on a 500-point scale, wrote Mikhail Zinshteyn, for Education Writers Association blog.

One half of American millennials scored below the minimum in literacy. In comparison, only 23 percent of Japanese students missed the literacy mark.

"These findings confirm everything that we and many others have said about what needs attention … ever since (the education report) 'A Nation at Risk,'" said Martha J. Kanter, a visiting professor of higher education at New York University and former assistant education secretary under President Barack Obama, told Education Week. "The findings are as troubling, if not more so."

Education Week reported the study did find differences in millennial performance depending on race, with white and Asian students outperforming their Hispanic and African-American counterparts.

Education Week also reported Americans with masters and doctorates also performed lower than their global competitors, suggesting there may be a disconnect between the level of education attained and the level of skill developed.

“You’ve seen tons of school reform efforts in the last 20 years that don’t seem to be able to make a dent," Madeline Goodman, co-author of the study, said to the EWA blog. "Well, maybe we need to reframe the problem in a larger way.”

The researchers concluded: "Because so many millennials are increasingly going into debt to pay for higher education, it behooves us to consider ways that we can make meaningful changes to the policies that govern access to, payment for and the attainment of skills within these institutions."

Leslie Corbly is a senior at the University of Oklahoma. She loves to read, write and run. Leslie can be contacted at l.corbly@deseretnews.ocm