News Spreads of WW History Survey Results

In early October 2018, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation quizzed 1,000 American citizens on their knowledge of the country’s history. Only 1 in 3 passed.

The survey asked multiple-choice questions borrowed from the U.S. citizenship test, which requires a passing score of 60 percent.

“People taking the citizenship exam are asked 10 out of 100 possible civics questions, and if they answer at least six correctly they move on to the next stage,” writes Mental Floss. “Unlike this recent survey, the real test isn’t multiple choice, which means applicants need to know the answers to questions like ‘What year was the Constitution ratified?’ and ‘How many members of the House of Representatives are there?’”

“It’s embarrassing,” said the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve always thought it important that immigrants must pass a test on the basics of American history and civics before they can be sworn in as citizens. Immigrants who are motivated to become citizens will take the time to learn. The real threat to American freedom is the failure of current citizens to learn even the most basic facts about U.S. history and government.”

U.S. News and World Report pointed out that “72 percent of respondents were unsure of or incorrectly identified the original 13 states and only 24 percent were able to identify correctly one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for (37 percent said it was for inventing the lightbulb).”

“No, Dwight Eisenhower was not a Civil War general,” read the headline online from The Oregonian. After further exploring into the survey questions participants got wrong, the paper provided readers with its own civics quiz.

NBC interviewed Alana von Voigt, a history teacher at Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, about the results.

“By continuing to teach our students about U.S. history and government, we are continuing to build upon their foundation, just as the Founding Fathers built for us,” she told NBC. “As teachers, we can show our students how to be leaders, and inspire them to be the inspiration for others. As the saying goes, history repeats itself.”

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation will be announcing a new program designed to change the way in which history is taught and learned in early 2019.

News of the survey findings also appeared on WNYC, BizJournals, Bustle, the Jackson Sun, the Staten Island Advance, and many other sites.


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