Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | August 4, 2011

25% Of American Students Pass In Geography

(Just goes to show how illiterate we are when it comes to education…)

Only 25 percent of American students passed their geography test

The National Assessment of Education Progress announced that only about a quarter of American schoolchildren scored “proficient” or above on a 2010 geography test.

Some of the questions:

4th grade:

Which of the following is most likely to be located in a major city rather than in a small town?

An international airport
A movie theater
A public library
A playground

8th grade:

Which of the following is most likely to lead to a sense of cultural unity among people?

A diverse landscape
A common language
Urban migration
Economic development

12th grade:

Worldwide, the greatest number of people who emigrate from one country to another today do so because they

believe that moving will help them economically
believe that moving will give them greater religious freedom
like the climate better in their new country
have been expelled from their native countries

Fourth graders made modest gains on the test compared to the last time it was given in 2001, but 12th graders slid backward, with only 20 percent scoring proficient this time around.

Daniel Edelson, vice president for education with the National Geographic Society, said in an interview with the Education Writers Association that he was “disappointed” with the results, but not surprised. “We’re just not doing a good job educating people with geography,” he said, lamenting that it is the lone core subject for which the Department of Education does not have a dedicated program.
“Geography has in fact been left behind,” he said.

But as blogger Kevin Drum at Mother Jones points out, the test is quite challenging, and covers a broad swath of material that includes environment and economic development. That is somewhat comforting, because it suggests that many of the 80 percent of 12th graders who didn’t pass the test would still be able to locate major countries on a map, for example.

Eighth graders are expected to know that a common language is most likely to lead to a “sense of cultural unity” among people. Fourth graders must answer that planting trees is the best method to prevent soil erosion. And 12th graders should know that developing countries mainly export raw materials and agricultural products.

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