Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions is the third major study conducted by ISI on the kind of knowledge required for informed citizenship. In 2006 and 2007, ISI published the first ever scientific surveys of civic learning among college students. Each year, approximately 14,000 freshmen and seniors at 50 schools nationwide were given a 60-question, multiple-choice exam on basic knowledge of America’s heritage. Both years, the students failed. The average freshman scored 51.7% the first year and 51.4% the next. The average senior scored 53.2%, then 54.2%. After all the time, effort, and money spent on college, students emerge no better off in understanding the fundamental features of American self-government.
Read more... (But do the quiz first.)
They've got some pretty ominous findings:
Americans Fail the Test of Civic Literacy
Colleges Should Teach America’s Heritage (OK, that's not ominous. It's even encouraging.)
College Adds Little to Civic Knowledge
Television—Including TV News—Dumbs America Down (No surprises here.)
What College Graduates Don’t Know About America (They've got a whole list of stuff the grads don't know.)
Elected Officials Score Lower than the General Public
YIKE!! OK, but I'm not really surprised. I called my senator's office this last week and his staffer didn't know what to do with a request for the Constitutional Authority for a bill they've passed. She didn't even understand the question. I had to ask it 3 times then explain to her, "The Founders gave Congress specific and limited powers. I want to know which Section of the Constitution they take the authority for this bill from." She said they'd get back to me. So did the other senator. So did the representative. None of them has yet, not even the representative, who is usually very good and has impressed me before with his respect for the Constitution. Even if he is a Democrat.
They've got a test where you can find out how much you know about our history & institutions. Can you pick out the 3 branches of the federal government on a multiple guess test? Less than half of the folks surveyed could do it. Take it before you read the summary, or else it's cheating. The summary has answers in it.