27 September 2006

Don't Know Much About Civics.

And even if you could buy your way into a top school (see below), it wouldn't do you much good:

"So how is America's modern education system doing in this regard? Are our citizens enlightened enough to exercise the powers of our democracy? Do our colleges and universities provide their students the American history and constitutional understanding needed to make them strong and responsible citizens?

A study released this week by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute--www.americancivicliteracy.org--demonstrates that the answers to both questions are no. The study concludes that "America's colleges and universities fail to increase knowledge about America's history and institutions." In a 60-question multiple-choice quiz ,"college seniors failed the civic literacy exam, with an average score of 53.2 percent, or F, on a traditional grading scale." And at many schools "seniors know less than freshmen about America's history, government, foreign affairs, and economy..."

Here's the whole thing. A summary of the study is here, the depressing findings are here, and lots more interesting info on the rest of the site. And supposing you did buy your way into a top-flight school, it would likely make you stupider!
How about you? Take the Civic Literacy Quiz and see how you rank. Report your results (be honest) in the comments - age and alma mater would be interesting info as well.


Blogger PSA+ said...

I scored 100%, am a very young 38, and am a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College – a school whose mission is training “good men and good citizens.”

27 September, 2006 06:34  
Blogger PSA+ said...

By the way, my high civics score should be balanced against the fact that I can't do long division.

27 September, 2006 06:37  
Anonymous Shay said...


I scored 100% too but what would anyone expect from a Wall Street Journal Economics Award Winner.

HSC '90 - same age as PSA

27 September, 2006 07:03  
Blogger PSA+ said...

Indeed! Dr. Townsend looks upon you with pride. What was the name of the Econ. professor with the homemade ties and alternating pairs of glasses (and whose final exam I exempted with a low C)?

27 September, 2006 07:15  
Anonymous Scott K said...

I scored 100% (37, graduate of Northwestern University). I can even do long division. But I can attribute a lot of my civics knowledge to Schoolhouse Rock, not NU. As a radio/TV/film major in college, I spent a lot of time watching movies and television and calling it "research" or "independent study."

27 September, 2006 14:02  
Blogger Karen B. said...

Princeton grad (1985)

However, I would attribute most of my knowledge of these questions to an excellent college prep school.

27 September, 2006 18:33  
Blogger PSA+ said...

Congratulations. Frankly, if the quiz is at all representative of the actual survey, it's fairly disturbing that so few college students could pass. I can't separate out what I learned when. But I do remember Mr. Linton's 9th grade civics class, particularly the day his fly was down - brutal. And like Scott, I'm sure the rudiments of our legislative process were ingrained in my head via School House Rock ("I'm just a bill...").

27 September, 2006 18:59  
Anonymous Dad said...

I also scored 100%, but don't agree that all the correct answers are correct. I am 69.833 years old (as you get older, decimals become more important)

28 September, 2006 07:12  
Blogger jj said...

100% for a 30-year-old state university dropout. :-)

I thought the women's suffrage question was the only hard one.

04 October, 2006 18:40  

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