Is our children learning?

No, they isn’t. This week’s “what’s the matter with kids today?” hand wringer is Still at Risk: What Students Don’t Know, Even Now. What teens don’t know could fill a book…which they wouldn’t or couldn’t read, it seems. This time, it’s literature and civics—which are being sacrificed in favor of reading and math skills. None of the results should surprise you. [Update: The test is at]

I suspect that Ramses II convened a task force to address the ignorance of the youth of the day—what with their papyrus and bronze tools, only 37 percent know that the Elamites destroyed Ur, and only 14 percent have read the Epic of Gilgamesh!

But back to the present. The new study notes that the National Assessment of Educational

Progress (NAEP) is conducted every five years, but contends that it is inadequate to assesss today’s knowledge of history and literature:

[O]nly one-third of the questions test historical “knowledge and perspective”—with the Department of Education reporting that the other twothirds test historical “analysis and interpretation.” There is no ongoing effort to assess knowledge of literature.

And they offer the caveat that

While the findings here cannot be readily compared to those collected in 1986—given substantial differences in how the tests were administered and how the data were collected—they can offer valuable insights into where we stand now. Moreover, because the data were collected using a subset of the same questions that were developed, vetted, tested, refined, and administered as part of the NAEP, they represent a carefully designed measuring stick.

And there they leave it.

Perhaps because the actual NAEP trends are…what’s the opposite of disquieting?


Still, we can pull ourselves out of this slump. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!