Students Lacking in Civics Basics

Poor results on national or international education tests are nothing new. The latest is The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2010. For a straightforward analysis of what it means, check this out from the Fordham Institute:

The nation’s report card assessed some 26,000 fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students; across all grades, about one quarter of pupils scored proficient, and 2 percent advanced. Alarming—though not terribly different from NAEP results in other subjects. So what do these numbers signify?

At the fourth-grade level, it means that barely one quarter of students could identify a function of the military and only 2 percent could offer up two rights of American citizens. The 76 percent of twelfth-grade students who failed to score proficient could not, for example, define the term “melting pot” or explain whether or not it applied to the U.S.

And only one percent of eighth graders could recognize a role performed by the Supreme Court. Still, there is some positive news to report. Notably, since 1998, the white-Hispanic and black-white achievement gaps have narrowed, while all sub-group scores have risen. But on the whole, the picture is bleak, especially for our twelfth grade students—the very people who will be eligible to vote in next year’s elections.