When it comes to their knowledge of U.S. history, most Americans get a big fat ‘F.’
A new survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that a mere four in 10 were able to pass a citizenship exam.
According to the study in which 41,000 adults participated, the majority of Americans in all states and the District of Columbia would flunk with only one exception ― Vermont, where 53 percent of citizens would pass.
The list of states that at least came close to the 50 percent mark includes Wyoming (which had the highest number ― 7 percent ― getting an “A”), South Dakota, Montana and Virginia.
The worst performing states were Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana, which came in last place with a failure rate of 73 percent.
The study “has validated what studies have shown for a century: Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” foundation president Arthur Levine said in a statement.
Just 15 percent of those who took the multiple choice test knew the year the Constitution was drafted (1787) and 25 percent knew the number of amendments it has (27).
A staggering 1 in 4 were unaware that freedom of speech is a First Amendment right.
The root of the problem, Levine asserted, is the U.S. education system.
“American history education is not working, as students are asked to memorize dates, events and leaders, which the poll results shows are not retained in adulthood,” he said. “Based on our research, this is not an issue of whether high school history teachers are adequately prepared or whether kids study American history in school. The answer to both questions is yes. This is an issue of how we teach American history.”
He urged “a fundamental change in how American history is taught and learned to make it relevant to our students lives, captivating and inclusive to all Americans.”
The study’s results may be dismal, but they represent a slight improvement over the foundation’s October survey, which found that out of 1,000 Americans, just 36 percent could pass the exam.