Counterculture Conservative presents an interesting civics quiz by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s American Civic Literacy Program. The results are disturbing, to say the least. Counterculture Conservative provides a redacted summary:
Americans Fail the Test of Civic Literacy
Seventy-one percent of Americans fail the test, with an overall average score of 49%.
- Liberals score 49%; conservatives score 48%.
- Republicans score 52%; Democrats score 45%.
- Fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government, a minimal requirement for understanding America’s constitutional system.
Elected Officials Score Lower than the General Public
Officeholders typically have less civic knowledge than the general public. On average, they score 44%, five percentage points lower than non-officeholders.
- Thirty percent of elected officials do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence.
College Adds Little to Civic Knowledge
Earning a college degree does little to increase knowledge of America’s history, key texts, and institutions. The average score among those who ended their formal education with a bachelor’s degree is 57%, or an “F.” That is only 13 percentage points higher than the average score among those who ended their formal education with a high school diploma.
- Only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
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.
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.