Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Well, this explains a lot....

Filed under "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid."
You might want to sit down before you read this...
Considering that most of the 14,000 students who completed the exam (7,000 seniors and 7,000 freshmen) scored an F on the portion of the test covering basic American history and institutions, not only will they be repeating history, but with test scores like that, they’ll be repeating history class, as well....

In 2007, ISI administered a 60-question test to 14,000 students at 50 colleges nationwide. The questions were designed to measure the students’ aptitude in four areas: basic American history, government, foreign affairs, and economics. In a companion study, in 2008 ISI administered a shorter exam (33 questions) to a random sample of 2,508 Americans without a college degree in order to have a standard level against which the impact of a college education on a threshold level of familiarity with basic American institutions could be determined.

Here are a few frightening figures certain to keep you up at night:

  • 71% of Americans failed the civics knowledge test;
  • 51% of Americans could not name the three branches of government;
  • The average score for college seniors on the civics knowledge test was 54.2% (an “F” by any standard);
  • The average student’s test score improved only 3.8 points from freshman to senior year;
  • Freshmen at Cornell, Yale, Princeton, and Duke scored better than seniors on the civics knowledge test.
  • 79% of elected officials that took the civics knowledge quiz did not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the government from establishing a religion.
  • 30% of office holders did not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
  • 27% of politicians could not name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  • 43% did not know the purpose of the Electoral College.
  • 39% of lawmakers believe the power of declaring war belongs to the president.
  • The average score for college professors who took the civics knowledge quiz was 55%.
Are you surprised considering that the US Gov't funds education on these very things in the way of public education?


Joshua Butcher said...

All of which raises the question:

What ought we be reading, or giving our children to read, in order to make up this gap in our culture? How about a good list of recommended resources for becoming knowledeable in these areas, without stumbling upon something too watered down, too biased, or too narrowly construed?

Dave said...

Personally I find this a little more disturbing.

Texana said...

And even scarier--NC is trying to restructure what is taught in American history to exclude anything before and including the civil war. If our kids don't have even the chance to learn about what America was built to stand for, what chance do that have of continuing our great republic?

John said...

@ Joshua, I think part of it is chronological snobbery, to use CS Lewis' phrase. Other than that, a list would have to include the original sources. + a healthy dose of distrust of what gov't schools are teaching; + an interest by the parents in what their kids actually learn.

@ Dave, you're right, that is much more disturbing.

@ Mom, at this point, I'd believe.