America’s education receives a failing grade

tags: education, civics, Diane Ravitch, ignorance



American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a recent nationwide test, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure, and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.

Overall, 20 per cent of fourth graders, 17 per cent of eighth graders and 12 per cent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer what was described as a “seemingly easy question,” asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution, the government’s statement on the results reported.

Diane Ravitch, an education historian who was invited by the national assessment’s governing board to review the results, said she was particularly disturbed by the fact that only 2 per cent of 12th graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education, which she called “very likely the most important decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the past seven decades.”

Students were given an excerpt and were asked what social problem the 1954 ruling was supposed to correct. The passage read, “We conclude that in the field of public education, separate but equal has no place, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

In this case, declared Dr. Ravitch, “The answer was right in front of them. This is alarming.”

“The results tell us that, as a country, we are failing to provide children with a high-quality, well-rounded education,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.



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