Thursday, January 08, 2009
Flunking At Being American
For the Americans out there ... the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has a Civics Literacy Test to see how well you know America's founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy. As with most such tests, the results are depressing:
~ Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
~ Only 21% know where the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" comes from.
~ Although we have engaged in two wars in the last eight years, only 53% know who has the power to declare war under our system.
~ Only 55% know who has authority over U.S. foreign policy.
~ Only 27% know the source of the prohibition against establishing an official religion for the United States.
~ Less than one in five know the source of the phrase "a wall of separation" between church and state.
It's not that the questions should be that hard:
While the questions vary in difficulty, most test basic knowledge. Six are borrowed from U.S. government naturalization exams that test knowledge expected of all new American citizens. Nine are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that the U.S. Department of Education uses to assess high school seniors. Three are drawn from an "American History 101" exam posted online by www.InfoPlease.com. Two were developed especially for this survey and the rest were drawn from ISI's previous civic literacy tests.
My score? "You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %."
The question I missed was:
11) What impact did the Anti-Federalists have on the United States Constitution?
Actually, I had the correct answer but managed to click the wrong button. (You don't think I'd be reporting on this if I did badly, do you?)
While I said this was for Americans, I would be interested to know how non-US citizens score on the test. I have the sinking feeling that many would outscore our own citizens.
Larry has joined in eliciting test takers as well.