College Seniors Failed a Basic Test on America’s History and Institutions.
College seniors know astoundingly little about America’s history, political thought, market economy and international relations.
The overall average score for the approximately 7,000 seniors who took the American civic literacy exam was 54.2%, an “F.” That is consistent with the overall average of 53.2% posted by seniors last year. Not one college surveyed can boast that its seniors scored, on average, even a “C” in American civic knowledge.
Harvard seniors scored highest, but their overall average was 69.6%, a “D+.” That is almost identical to the 69.7% earned by Harvard seniors last year. Yale and Princeton seniors averaged only 65.9% and 61.9%, respectively. At 18 colleges, the average senior scored less than 50%.
The average senior failed all four subjects, scoring less than 60% in each.
|THE AVERAGE SENIOR FAILED ALL FOUR SUBJECTS, AGAIN|
|Test Section||Senior Mean (2006)||Senior Mean (2005)|
|American Political Thought||55.2%||51.4%|
|America and the World||50.8%||51.5%|
|The Market Economy||51.1%||50.5%|
- Seniors do not know basic facts of American history. Only 45.9% know that Yorktown was the battle that ended the American Revolution.
- Seniors do not know the basic timeline of American history. Only 47.7% know that Fort Sumter came before Gettysburg and that Gettysburg came before Appomattox.
- Seniors do not know America’s founding documents. Only 45.9% know that the line “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” comes from the Declaration of Independence.
- Seniors do not know the rudiments of America’s historical relations with the world. Only 42.7% know that NATO was formed to resist Soviet expansion.
|EASTERN CONNECTICUT INCREASED CIVIC KNOWLEDGE MOST|
|This table ranks the 50 schools in this year’s survey by the difference in average scores between their freshmen and their seniors on the American civic literacy exam. Eastern Connecticut State University ranked first in civic-knowledge “value added.” Cornell University ranked last.|
|Rank by Value Added||College||Freshman
|1.||Eastern Connecticut State University*||31.34%||40.99%||+9.65%|
|2.||Marian College (WI)*||33.66||43.10||9.44|
|3.||Murray State University (KY)*||40.63||49.75||9.12|
|4.||Concordia University (NE)*||46.29||55.28||8.99|
|5.||St. Cloud State University (MN)*||35.67||44.26||8.59|
|6.||Mississippi State University*||42.50||50.86||8.36|
|7.||Pfeiffer University (NC)*||36.05||44.30||8.25|
|8.||Illinois State University*||42.74||50.93||8.19|
|9.||Iowa State University*||45.03||52.69||7.66|
|10.||University of Mississippi||41.87||49.32||7.45|
|11.||Smith College (MA)||52.63||60.07||7.44|
|12.||Rhodes College (TN)||53.76||61.18||7.42|
|13.||University of Montana*||45.54||52.16||6.62|
|14.||Idaho State University*||41.76||48.15||6.39|
|15.||University of Wisconsin||51.57||57.87||6.30|
|16.||University of Southern Maine*||37.48||43.58||6.10|
|18.||University of Notre Dame||55.66||61.25||5.59|
|19.||Mt. Vernon Nazarene Univ. (OH)*||40.04||44.60||4.56|
|20.||Washington & Lee University||62.46||66.98||4.52|
|21.||Calvin College (MI)||51.99||56.45||4.46|
|22.||University of Florida||48.96||53.40||4.44|
|23.||University of North Carolina||53.26||57.68||4.42|
|24.||University of Minnesota-Twin Cities*||49.18||53.50||4.32|
|25.||University of Michigan||46.68||51.00||4.32|
|26.||University of Washington||51.63||55.88||4.25|
|27.||Gonzaga University (WA)||47.71||51.86||4.15|
|28.||University of Rochester (NY)*||55.69||59.32||3.63|
|29.||Grove City College (PA)||63.64||67.26||3.62|
|30.||Georgia College and State University*||40.28||43.68||3.40|
|31.||Bowdoin College (ME)||59.50||62.86||3.36|
|32.||University of Georgia*||54.48||57.76||3.28|
|33.||Carnegie Mellon University*||54.06||56.90||2.84|
|34.||St. Thomas University (FL)*||29.75||32.50||2.75|
|35.||Texas State University-San Marcos*||41.25||43.99||2.74|
|36.||Texas A&M International University*||38.43||41.14||2.71|
|37.||George Mason University (VA)||47.28||49.96||2.68|
|38.||University of Virginia||62.95||65.28||2.33|
|40.||Wheaton College (IL)||62.87||64.98||2.11|
|41.||University of Pennsylvania||62.66||63.49||0.83|
|42.||University of Massachusetts-Amherst*||46.10||46.66||0.56|
|43.||Oakwood College (AL)*||35.17||34.69||-0.48|
|44.||University of California-Berkeley||57.03||56.27||-0.76|
|47.||St. John’s University (NY)*||41.69||39.82||-1.87|
|* Randomly selected school|