Three other Asian countries and Finland made it to the top five.
According to the BBC, these latest international comparisons, compiled for Pearson by the Economist Intelligence Unit, emphasise the success of Asian education systems, with South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong in China rated as the highest performing.
The table shows a strong performance from the UK, behind only Finland in Europe and ahead of countries such as Germany, France and the United States, the report said.
Finland, which topped the table last year, has fallen to the fifth position, and there has been a wider downward trend for a number of Scandinavian countries.
TOP 20 EDUCATION SYSTEMS
1. South Korea
4. Hong Kong
14. United States
16. New Zealand
19. Czech Republic
The lowest-ranked European country is Greece, with a group of emerging economies at the bottom of the table, including Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil.