WW Finds Most Americans Can’t Pass Citizenship Test

Americans, WW has found, don’t know enough when it comes to American history.

In a recent survey, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only 4 in 10 respondents can pass a multiple-choice sample of the U.S. Citizenship exam.

Of the 41,000 Americans surveyed, only 15 percent of American adults could correctly note the year the U.S. Constitution was written, and only 25 percent knew how many amendments there are to the U.S. Constitution.

“A new survey found that Americans have an abysmal knowledge of the nation’s history and a majority of residents in only one state, Vermont, could pass a citizenship test,” says the New York Post.

“Vermonters are often chided for believing they are exceptional,” wrote the Burlington Free Press. “But a survey released Friday showed they actually are better in one area than everybody else: U.S. history.”

These results follow a preliminary poll release by WW in October.

“The study’s results may be dismal, but they represent a slight improvement over the foundation’s October survey, which found that out of 1,000 Americans, just 36 percent could pass the exam,” notes the Huffington Post.

These results highlight why it is essential for a greater emphasis must be placed on how the nation learns American history.

Fox News recognizes the need: “Knowing civics and history isn’t something that is an abstract good like knowing how to play the clarinet, hit a one-handed backhand or tell the difference between Monet and Manet. It is a practical, vital knowledge the lack of which is creating a crisis for our country.”

These poll results demonstrate that a waning knowledge of American history may be one of the greatest educational challenges facing the U.S. As a result, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation is launching a major national initiative to transform how American history is learned today, providing high school students with an interactive digital platform intended to make American history more interesting and appreciated by all learners, particularly those who do not see the importance history plays in the now and tomorrow.

“I would argue that memorizing the minutiae is part of why people become disconnected,” high school social studies teacher Edwin Lipowski told the Chicago Tribune. “As a teacher I would be hard-pressed to tell somebody that you need to know James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers (a question asked on many citizenship tests) but I do think you need to know what those papers were about, because that is what we’re dealing with right now — factions, people dividing into camps.”

Read more about WW’s American History Initiative here and see the full survey results here.

Some addental coverage of the 50 state poll can be read in the Detroit Free Press, the Miami Herald, Slate, the Charlotte Observer, The Hill, The Hechinger Report, and Hawaii News Now.



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