A Report of the National Civic Literacy Board: The Coming Crisis in Citizenship
The Survey

Ranking the Colleges

By comparing senior scores to freshman scores at each school, ISI has compiled the first-ever ranking of colleges by the value added to students' learning of America's history and institutions during the baccalaureate.

Many of the colleges and universities that add the most to civic learning are lesser known, while many of the schools that add little to civic learning are among the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities.

We were especially surprised that freshmen outscored seniors at a number of campuses. In the bottom 16 ranked colleges, the average freshman score was higher than the average senior score, indicating that seniors at these schools actually saw their knowledge of these crucial subjects decline during their years of undergraduate study. Many of these colleges where "negative learning" took place are among the most prestigious in the nation.

RANKING THE COLLEGES
RankCollege Freshman MeanSenior MeanValue Added
1Rhodes College 50.6%62.2%+11.6%
2 Colorado State University 40.6 51.5 10.9
3 Calvin College 49.5 59.0 9.5
4 Grove City College 59.0 68.4 9.4
5 University of Colorado, Boulder 39.7 48.6 8.9
6 Spring Arbor University 39.5 47.8 8.3
7 University of New Mexico 38.7 46.9 8.2
8 University of Mobile 40.6 48.1 7.5
9 Florida Memorial University 24.4 31.2 6.8
10 Central Connecticut State Univ. 39.1 44.1 5.0
11 George Mason University 50.9 55.9 5.0
12 Youngstown State University 37.6 42.5 4.9
13 North Carolina Central University 28.9 33.7 4.8
14 Utah State University 43.8 48.3 4.5
15 Lynchburg College 43.3 47.3 4.0
16 Catholic University of America 45.9 49.1 3.2
17 University of Massachusetts, Boston 42.5 45.5 3.0
18 Princeton University 66.0 68.8 2.8
19 Eastern Kentucky University 31.4 34.1 2.7
20 Baylor University 47.6 50.2 2.6
21 West Texas A&M University 41.0 43.5 2.5
22 University of South Alabama 39.7 41.7 2.0
23 University of Texas, Austin 53.8 55.8 2.0
24 Wheaton College 59.7 61.6 1.9
25 Harvard University 67.8 69.7 1.9
26 University of Washington 48.3 50.1 1.8
27 Appalachian State University 41.7 43.4 1.7
28 Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 54.9 56.5 1.6
29 Capital University 44.0 45.3 1.3
30 American University 63.4 64.4 1.0
31 Stanford University 62.2 63.1 0.9
32 University of West Florida 42.1 42.8 0.7
33 Washington & Lee University 63.6 63.8 0.2
34 Dartmouth College 67.9 68.0 0.1
35 University of Michigan 52.1 52.0 -0.1
36 Ithaca College 48.8 48.6 -0.2
37 University of Chicago 64.5 64.2 -0.3
38 Massachusetts Inst. of Technology 63.9 63.5 -0.4
39 Williams College 69.1 68.4 -0.7
40 University of Florida 48.6 47.8 -0.8
41 Wofford College 49.2 48.3 -0.9
42 University of Virginia 63.7 62.6 -1.1
43 Georgetown University 69.1 67.9 -1.2
44 Yale University 69.8 68.3 -1.5
45 University of West Georgia 34.9 32.9 -2.0
46 Duke University 60.6 58.3 -2.3
47 Brown University 62.5 59.8 -2.7
48 Cornell University 59.4 56.1 -3.3
49 University of California, Berkeley 60.4 54.8 -5.6
50 Johns Hopkins University 61.7 54.4 -7.3
Table Seven

Ranking by the Four Subject Areas

Some colleges might argue that they specialize in one of the four subject areas and they should therefore be ranked by fulfillment of their mission. The ranking, however, does not change significantly whether based on overall value added to civic knowledge, or the value added in any of the four areas we tested: American history, American government and political ideas, market economy, or America in the global context.

The following chart shows how each college ranks in the four subject areas.

COLLEGE RANKING BY SUBJECT AREAS
RankCollege American History American Politics World Affairs Market Economy
1Rhodes College 5 1 1 3
2 Colorado State University* 3 3 2 1
3 Calvin College 1 5 7 6
4 Grove City College 4 8 3 2
5 University of Colorado, Boulder 2 7 5 11
6 Spring Arbor University* 6 2 10 10
7 University of New Mexico* 9 9 4 5
8 University of Mobile* 12 4 6 4
9 Florida Memorial University* 7 6 9 19
10 Central Connecticut State Univ.* 8 21 11 21
11 George Mason University 18 19 8 9
12 Youngstown State University* 11 12 22 8
13 North Carolina Central University* 10 10 17 25
14 Utah State University* 13 14 20 15
15 Lynchburg College* 24 15 12 12
16 Catholic University of America 21 17 18 23
17 University of Massachusetts, Boston* 27 24 14 14
18 Princeton University 22 13 26 43
19 Eastern Kentucky University* 30 16 16 17
20 Baylor University* 20 20 25 29
21 West Texas A&M University* 17 27 19 33
22 University of South Alabama* 23 36 24 31
23 University of Texas, Austin 19 24 23 41
24 Wheaton College 25 26 27 20
25 Harvard University 32 11 30 30
26 University of Washington* 14 30 36 22
27 Appalachian State University* 15 41 13 44
28 Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 16 23 29 39
29 Capital University* 29 42 15 26
30 American University* 31 29 21 38
31 Stanford University 38 18 28 32
32 University of West Florida* 28 22 35 36
33 Washington & Lee University 33 38 32 28
34 Dartmouth College 36 34 33 37
35 University of Michigan 35 37 41 18
36 Ithaca College* 26 32 42 42
37 University of Chicago 41 31 47 13
38 Massachusetts Inst. of Technology* 39 35 45 24
39 Williams College 42 28 34 46
40 University of Florida 40 40 37 34
41 Wofford College 43 48 46 7
42 University of Virginia 44 46 43 16
43 Georgetown University 45 43 31 27
44 Yale University 33 33 44 47
45 University of West Georgia* 37 47 38 48
46 Duke University 46 45 40 35
47 Brown University 48 44 39 40
48 Cornell University* 47 39 49 45
49 University of California, Berkeley 49 50 48 49
50 Johns Hopkins University* 50 49 50 50
Table Eight
Note: Identical ranking reflects a tie in the value-added result.
* Randomly selected colleges

Test Question Themes

Each question included was intended to test important knowledge. Working with a distinguished board of professors from around the country and outside reviewers, we identified 60 themes that appear in the first column of the following table. This listing illustrates the range of ideas tested in American history (questions 1-17), American government and political thought (18-31), international affairs (32-47), and the market economy (48-60). The themes consist of basic civic knowledge or concepts, not obscure or arbitrarily selected knowledge.

AMERICAN CIVIC LITERACY RESULTS BY QUESTION AND CLASS
Question Theme Freshmen
percent correct
Seniors
percent correct
Civic Gain
percent
Rank
by gain
1.Jamestown colony 47.60% 46.60% -1.00% 42
2. The Puritan religious tradition 52.50 51.90 -0.60 41
3. Form of the U.S. government 61.00 60.00 -1.00 44
4. George Washington’s founding role 70.30 71.50 +1.20 33
5. The American Revolutionary War 49.80 45.60 -4.20 56
6. The unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration 81.80 83.00 +1.20 33
7. Chronology of major historical events 53.00 50.10 -2.90 53
8. Origin of the doctrine of separation of church and state 25.20 27.20 +2.00 29
9. Outcome of the War of 1812 37.50 34.90 -2.60 51
10. The thought of Abraham Lincoln 65.70 65.70 0.00 39
11. Timing of the Civil War 60.80 63.70 +2.90 24
12. The New Deal 80.80 83.40 +2.60 28
13. Reconstruction* 44.70 42.10 -2.60 51
14. Women’s suffrage 59.40 58.40 -1.00 44
15. Roe v. Wade 60.20 65.80 +5.60 11
16. Brown v. Board of Education 79.10 82.20 +3.10 22
17. World War II 69.70 72.60 +2.90 24
18. Declaration of Independence 47.60 47.90 +0.30 37
19. Plato’s Republic 25.70 28.90 +3.20 20
20. The concept of representative democracy 73.60 77.10 +3.50 19
21. The Federalist Papers 56.30 50.60 -5.70 57
22. Concept of the separation of powers 70.60 75.70 +5.10 14
23. Marbury v. Madison 54.40 44.80 -9.60 60
24. Federalism defined 49.40 47.60 -1.80 49
25. Common law 48.50 56.90 +8.40 3
26. John Locke and the Declaration of Independence 73.30 72.30 -1.00 44
27. Founders’ understanding of moral and political knowledge 39.20 39.10 -0.10 40
28. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 79.90 83.10 +3.20 21
29. Classical thought and relativism 24.90 30.50 +5.60 13
30. The Bill of Rights 48.10 49.00 +0.90 35
31. The nature of society 22.50 22.70 +0.20 38
32. Thomas Paine and Common Sense 74.20 72.60 -1.60 48
33. Enumerated powers 33.40 29.70 -3.70 55
34. President Washington’s foreign policy 47.90 38.60 -9.30 59
35. Monroe Doctrine 31.30 23.30 -8.00 58
36. Traditional just war criteria 14.40 17.10 +2.70 27
37. NATO 46.20 44.70 -1.50 47
38. Alternative forms of government 47.70 53.30 +5.60 11
39. Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America) 42.50 47.30 +4.80 16
40. The United Nations 64.20 69.00 +4.80 17
41. The Cold War and the USSR 77.00 83.10 +6.10 8
42. The Kennedy administration 55.20 56.60 +1.40 32
43. Concept of balance of power 53.90 58.70 +4.80 17
44. The Vietnam War* 45.70 46.20 +0.50 36
45. The Cold War 76.30 78.30 +2.00 29
46. Saddam Hussein 38.00 45.20 +7.20 6
47. Persian Gulf War 1991 59.50 70.40 +10.90 1
48. Inflation and the value of money 59.00 67.70 +8.70 2
49. Free enterprise defined 64.40 71.30 +6.90 7
50. Source of market prosperity 48.20 53.10 +4.90 15
51. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)* 68.90 74.50 +5.60 11
52. Definition of business profit 65.30 71.00 +5.70 9
53. Concept of a public good 19.70 22.50 +2.80 26
54. Keynesian economic thought and policy 35.90 37.60 +1.70 31
55. Income distribution in America 27.40 26.40 -1.00 44
56. Gains from trade* 63.50 70.80 +7.30 5
57. Law of demand* 57.40 60.40 +3.00 23
58. Monetary policy* 25.80 24.00 -1.80 49
59. Tax policy 58.10 66.20 +8.10 4
60. Federal budget 23.10 19.90 -3.20 54
Table Nine
Note: Identical ranking for several questions reflects a tie in the results.
* Denotes a question from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test for high school students.
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