Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Civic Literacy Report - 2007-2008 College Test Scores and Rankings
Apparently I neglected to go ahead and post this last November. The annual version of the American Civic Literacy report came out, and the results were, well,...not that great.

I actually took the entire quiz. Missed a few, but not too shabby. OK, I'll say it, the ones I missed were not well written and should be taken off! Well, except for the one where I though "400 years ago" and picked "the 1400's" or somesuch.

Finding 1:
College Seniors Failed a Basic Test on America’s History and Institutions.

The average college senior knows astoundingly little about America’s history, government, international relations and market economy, earning an “F” on the American civic literacy exam with a score of 54.2%. Harvard seniors did best, but their overall average was 69.6%, a disappointing D+.
Finding 2:
Colleges Stall Student Learning about America.

From kindergarten through 12th grade, the average student gains 2.3 points per year in civic knowledge, almost twice the annual gain of the average college student. Students at some colleges did learn more per year than students in grade school, demonstrating that it is possible.

* Eastern Connecticut State, one of 25 colleges randomly selected for this year’s survey, was the best performer, increasing civic knowledge by 9.65 points. Rhodes College, which increased civic knowledge by 7.42 points, was the best performer among 18 elite colleges surveyed both this year and last. Rhodes was also the best overall performer last year.

Finding 3:
America’s Most Prestigious Universities Performed the Worst.

Colleges that do well in popular rankings typically do not do well in advancing civic knowledge.

* Generally, the higher U.S. News & World Report ranks a college, the lower it ranks here in civic learning. At four colleges U.S. News ranked in its top 12 (Cornell, Yale, Duke, and Princeton), seniors scored lower than freshmen. These colleges are elite centers of “negative learning.” Cornell was the third-worst performer last year and the worst this year.
* Surveyed colleges ranked by Barron’s imparted only about one-third the civic learning of colleges overlooked by Barron’s.

Finding 4:
Inadequate College Curriculum Contributes to Failure.

The number of history, political science, and economics courses a student takes helps determine, together with the quality of these courses, whether he acquires knowledge about America during college. Students generally gain one point of civic knowledge for each civics course taken. The average senior, however, has taken only four such courses.

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