. . . and not with the kind of score I’ve been used to being able to score on academic tests over the years, just about whenever I really wanted to. . . and also only because of grandparents and parents who were well-read and encouraged reading well-written, high-information books. Oh, and a really rigorous (for the times) 8th grade biology teacher and a few others who didn’t rigorously stifle independent study (yeh, that was a problem even back in those days of yore. . . ). But I was one of the lucky ones for my generation:
By contrast, the “sample questions” for the 12th Grade history section for the 2010 NAEP are relatively simplistic, and cover very little of a nature of questions that my generation of 8th-graders would not have been able to ace. *shrugs* Of course, my acing, now, of the five sample questions is no test. But considering that some serious scholarship has demonstrated that college grads generally are barely better informed on American history/civics than high school grads, the chart below is at least somewhat interesting.
Thirty-six percent of college graduates cannot name all three branches of government, required knowledge on the U.S. citizenship exam. Remarkably, that is the same percentage of first-time citizenship applicants who answer this question correctly.
Only 26% of college graduates know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from Thomas Jefferson’s letters. Fifty-two percent falsely believe it is found in the Constitution.
Only 33% of college graduates know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
Eighteen percent of college graduates cannot name a single right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Only 54% of college graduates correctly define free enterprise as a system in which individual citizens create, exchange, and control goods and services. Thirteen percent believe it is a system in which demand and supply are decided through majority vote.
Thirty-two percent of college graduates falsely believe the president has the power to declare war.
Only 24% of college graduates know that the main issue in the Lincoln–Douglas debates was whether slavery should be allowed to expand into new territories.
College graduates also do little better than high school graduates in distinguishing between the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence. Only 24% of college graduates (compared to 21% of high school graduates) know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from President Lincoln’s immortal speech. Forty-eight percent of college graduates (compared to 41% of high school graduates) incorrectly believe it comes from the Declaration.