When it comes to science skills, Nebraska kids perform like kids in the Russian Federation.
In math, they're closer to Ontario, Canada.
That means Nebraska students are above-average in math and science on the international stage, but they still trail their counterparts in South Korea, Singapore and Chinese Taipei, a federal study found.
The same goes for Iowa students and most American public school kids.
The National Center for Education Statistics conducted the study, released Thursday, so states could examine how their students compare academically with their peers in other countries.
Because only some states give students international tests, the study predicted how students would score by comparing results of a U.S. test to those of an international one.
The study compared scores on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress with scores of international students on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Thirty-eight countries and nine international education systems participated in the 2011 TIMSS.
Nebraska and Iowa were among 36 states whose eighth-grade students in public schools would score higher in math than the international average score of 500. Nebraska's students would have scored 511, and Iowa's 527. World-leading South Korea scored 613.
The leading math state was Massachusetts, whose 561 placed it ahead of 42 of the 47 participating international countries and systems. Alabama, the lowest-scoring state, scored higher than 19 countries and systems.
In science, Nebraska's 541 and Iowa's 549 put them among 47 states with scores higher than the international average.
Singapore's 590 was the world's best.
Once again, Massachusetts' 567 led the states. The District of Columbia brought up the rear.
To put results another way, the authors predict that students in Nebraska and Iowa public schools would, overall, score higher in math than children in a variety of countries, including Morocco, Iran and Ukraine. The two states would trail East Asian nations, the Russian Federation and Quebec, Canada.
In science, Nebraska and Iowa students would beat out their peers in England, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, among others. The two states would trail Finland and East Asian countries.
President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have cited international test scores in advocating for their education agenda. Critics say such data should be used with caution because of differences in the school systems.