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Below is a test that was administered to eighth graders in Bullitt County Schools (Kentucky) in 1912. Many children that passed the examination would receive scholarships to go to high schools. In those days it was not easy as many high schools were sometimes another county away. Farm kids could rarely afford to go.

The test is rather difficult. Comparing the curricula of many schools today, it is evident that these kids were much more prepared not only in national geography and history but world geography and history, something that is lacking today.

While many may think with the advent of computers, the internet, TV, radio, and other high tech equipment that Americans would be more intelligent, sadly, the American educational system has been allowed to degenerate into very substandard levels.

Many recent studies have indicated that American education has been lagging those of industrialized countries. The subliminal war on education via austerity and transfer of public dollars to for profit education (vouchers) makes the degeneration of the American education a continued slide to mediocrity.

It is likely that the first option for most attempting to take this test will be to seek the help of Google or a calculator. Does anyone remember how to do amortizations manually? What about percentage decrease of a product?

When ABC went on the streets to quiz people on this test most failed. Do you think you are capable of doing any better?

Head below the fold for more, including the full test.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

There are some questions on the test that are a bit dated and may justifiably stump many. Questions like the 3 largest states would have a different answer today than then. A question like the number of presidents who died in office is different today than then. Also the names of some countries is different today than then. Most of the questions however apply today as it did then so there should be no excuse that if students could successfully do the test then they should now.

Try the test. Don’t use a calculator or the internet. How did you do? The answers are here.

Originally posted to ProgressiveLiberal on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, Daily Kos Classics, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Whoa! That's a pretty tough test (15+ / 0-)

    And long too!

    I would probably do well on the Spelling, Arithmetic and even the Grammar, though most of the grammar terminology is out of common use now. But the History and a lot of the Geography is tough.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:04:17 AM PDT

    •  I tried an easy question...and failed (10+ / 0-)

      Name the three largest states in order.

      I realized Alaska would not have been a a state at that time, and I couldn't remember what our fourth largest state is today.

      Inquiry that does not achieve coordination of behaviour is not inquiry but simply wordplay - Richard Rorty

      by BuckMulligan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:46:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We also have a century (9+ / 0-)

      of additional history: the battle of Quebec? The world's seen fifty larger, more decisive military engagements since then.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:55:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True...but (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        i dont get it, rbird, bartcopfan

        The Battle of Quebec decided which colonial power would claim the uncontested control of North America north and east of any Spanish claims.  (This being the 18th Century, any Indian claims would have been ignored.)  Had Montcalm defeated Wolfe, everything west of the Alleghenies would have been part of New France, the Indians' removal might have been postponed and the disturbances of the French Revolution may well have partly played out in the Mississippi, Ohio and Great Lakes watersheds.  Also, without a French presence to the west of the Appalachians, British colonists would have attached themselves more closely to the Crown out of fear;  the American Revolution might have been averted.

        In short, it was pretty important.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 02:09:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Averting American Revolution (0+ / 0-)

          As for the American Revolution being averted, there's a saying:  "Colonies are like children:  The best ones leave home."   A strong French threat might have delayed the American colonies "leaving home," but not averted it.

        •  Not Exactly (0+ / 0-)

          The Russians had claims extending from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains or Pacific coastal mountain ranges, as far south to about northern California, with uncontested possession of Alaska. These claims were not resolved by the Battle of Quebec.

          the long southeastern section of Alaska that blocks access to the Pacific for much of current British Columbia is the result of the British and Russians settling their claims.

          And the Battle of Quebec left France with control of the Mississippi valley and Great Plains (the Louisiana Territory). The French lost Canada, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio Valley (the Northwest Territory).

          The French Revolution could have been played out in the Mississippi valley - except for the reason why France was tossed out of North America to begin with. Very few French colonists compared to British. France has never been an exporter of colonists, aside from the expulsion of the Hugenots.

          And France lost its other colony to its own revolutionary war for independence, Haiti. Without Quebec or Haiti, and with wars to pay for, Napoleon was happy to sell the Louisiana to the Americans.

          There would be no averting of the American Revolution. France lost North America for the same reason that the Native Americans lost North America: the land was flooded with huge numbers of English, Scottish, Irish, and, after the war of 1812, German settlers.

          On the US census question about ethnicity, German remains the answer with the greatest number of responses.

          We are made of starstuff. That, and untold billions of mistakes.

          by bowlweevils on Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 03:53:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think you're exagerating. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, Demi Moaned

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

      by nailbender on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:42:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The test may or may not be authentic. (9+ / 0-)

      Variations of this alleged test have been around since at least 1999. See Snopes.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:07:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True that... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joemac53, Hawksana, mayim, slatsg

        Possibly another urban legend. Even if this was a real test given in 1912 it was not a general test given to every 6th grader in KY. This was a scholarship exam for the best and the brightest to be awarded a monetary prize for their achievement. Everyone, please remember to compare apples to apples.

        •  The newspaper clip may be a mock up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but I've got my grandparents school books from that period and this seems like it's valid scholarship qualification test  based on what I see in them.

          Note -- this test is designed to separate the cream from the cream.

          No one was trying to educate every child.  Education, and especially higher education -- i.e. "high school" was for children with aptitude.  Kids who took this test would be academically talented 8th graders competing for a scholarship to high school.

          My maternal grandfather won such a scholarship to the Indiana Normal School (now Indiana State). He went on to do a law degree at the University of Michigan.

          At the same time a number of my relatives in Kentucky left school early. One uncle completed the 4th grade, and another the 6th grade and then they went to work full time, while my paternal grandmother won a full scholarship to Berea School. (now Berea College)

          Schools to day are doing a good job of educating many children. High poverty schools are having a hard time.  The crisis in education is caused by poverty, and the social circumstances that surround it and sustain it.

        •  test standards (0+ / 0-)

          The quality of education varies from state to state, due to several factors. These questions are very similar to standard 6th-8th grade achievement test questions (at least, in rural WI) in the mid- to late 1960s.

        •  education waste (0+ / 0-)

          What is the use of all this education when it comes to making a dime? Would it help or hinder? How much of this foolishness has stuck to peoples minds over the last 113 years.

      •  If if is, (0+ / 0-)

        the authors should have watched their own grammar. They misspelled "secrete" in No. 1 under Physiology, and failed to end the sentence with a question mark. (All right, I've been a writer/editor for 50 years; so shoot me.)

    •  Repeating History (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood

      You make a point about something that really is scary. Republicans have worked hard since at least the late 1960s to marginalize the study of history. That might seem absurd, until you realize the degree to which we've been repeating the worst mistakes of the past -- mainly because of overall public ignorance about our own history. What is REALLY scary is that, with the support of today's middle class, we have been repeating the same steps that resulted in the Great Depression.

  •  these are always fun (19+ / 0-)

    but then considering my daughter just started 6th grade and will be learning french for the 2nd year and has biotechnology courses, i'd argue they would fail our 6th grade tests.  it shocked me when i was reading my daughters 4th grade science book and they were learning about plate tectonics.

    •  yeah, but that's not really a good comparison (12+ / 0-)

      since biotechnology didn't exist as we know it.  Point is this is a pretty comprehensive (and worldly) test dealing with pretty fundamental skills that few seem to possess nowadays....

      I'm not sure what they were doing in foreign language in 1912, but foreign lang. curricula at the high school level are very poor, by and large (obviously there are exceptions)

      •  But that's kind of the point -- (19+ / 0-)

        the things we focus on in schools today are different than the things that were focused on a hundred years ago.  Some things decline in relevance as others rise.

        •  but I'm talking about relevant things. Sure, it's (9+ / 0-)

          understandable that kids today don't know all that much about the Whig party.

          But basic math, writing, reading, comprehension, critical thinking, geography, language, worldliness--all of these skills have declined precipitously.  

          Lots of things on that test SHOULD be common knowledge (not all, certainly)

          •  yes and no (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mickT, mrkvica, Chinton, conniptionfit

            i didn't really get a lot of things like extra languages (it was offered) but i did get multiple courses in computer programming, multiple type of athletics such as fencing, bowling, swimming, golf, tennis, badmitton, basketball, football, etc.  chemistry, physics, workshop and auto shop, ROTC, among other things.  the world has changed so much that the standard for completing one's education has been rapidly shifting to obtaining a bachelor's degree in some type of specialty.

            our educational approaches have had to change so much to adapt the rapid pace of change.  while we have given up rigor in some areas, not even the best educated children of the wealthiest citizens in the world were studying anatomy and physiology at 10.

            still, its a fun comparison.

            •  If more people knew how to amortize, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chimene, radical simplicity

              I don't think the mortgage catastrophe would have happened.

              Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

              by PsychoSavannah on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:07:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I so totally agree (10+ / 0-)

                Our schools need a course in consumer math.  For about 99 out of 100 students, it would be so much more valuable than trigonometry.  

                Amortization, and with it, simple and compound interest.
                Interest rates
                Calculate the odds of winning the lottery
                Word problems on the cost of buying a new car every three years vs. a gently used car every six
                The rule of 72
                Building a retirement nest egg
                How the stock market works, and bonds, mutual funds, etc.
                The principles of insurance.

                A 47% return on investment--that's pretty doggoned good!

                by deminva on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:27:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  consumer math -- I didn't get that in 1960's HS (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  and I wouldn't be surprised if it's still not available -- the PTB don't want the peasants to be THAT kind of literate!

                  "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

                  by chimene on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:43:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  what are our schools supposed to be? (0+ / 0-)

                  financial education or about knowledge?  maybe spending one or two classes in homeroom about it yes, but really shouldn't the parents be teaching their kids this?  and if they can't be arsed to do so, then i guess their kids will unnecessarily suffer.

                  the only point i am trying to make is that there is a limited number of hours to teach kids, and there is increasing technical and scientific complexity in the world that our kids will grow up to face.  every subject cannot be taught and some things will just have to be up to the parents to do it.

                  people are complaining about: lack of history, lack of basic math, lack of physical education, lack of civics, etc.  how are we supposed to fit all the stuff we used to teach and all of the stuff a rapidly changing highly scientific world demands they learn in the same or decreasing time period?  i mean, its not like childhood has expanded in time, kids still have 13 years to get taught all of this stuff.

                  personally, as a software developer, i think it is so much more important for our kids to have deep technical knowledge.  computers and IT are incredibly important today - think how much more important they will be tomorrow.  so what if a kid can do trig on paper - no one does it that way anyways, they all use calculators or computers.  the phone in my pocket is twice as powerful as the high-powered laptop i used in college to learn computer science in the year 2000!  i have a computer the size of an altoid's tin that is as powerful as my phone.  that's what the kids are facing.

                  •  No (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Linda Wood

                    The generation that is responsible for our long, slow economic decline should teach their children about finances? Regardless, times have changed,  parents today often don't have much time to spend with their children (esp. if they must work more than one job), and it's in the best interests of the country to ensure that today's youth understands the complexities economics (both personal and govt) better than we do.

                  •  Knowledge for engineers and techs, or operators? (0+ / 0-)

                    Deep technical knowledge of computers, like that for automobile mechanics, is for the engineers and technicians.  Most people using either are operators, and need a basic knowledge of how and why they work, so they can get out of the equivalent of skids and getting stuck in mud.

              •  Ah, but in college I had a calculator that did it (0+ / 0-)

                for me.  And after college and misplacing the calculator I used Excel to figure out how much extra to pay on my mortgage each month to pay off my place by age 62.

                The math's not so hard.  I think maybe the thing people should be told (taught) is the importance of doing the math.  Most people seem to sleepwalk through their financial affairs.

                •  Understanding the problem is still necessary (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  txcatlin, GMFORD

                  for using a calculator or Excel. What strikes me about the math section is that all questions present a real mathematical problem without suggesting what operations are required to solve it. That level of basic knowledge is not well understood by today's students who often lament "when will I ever need this math stuff?"

                  •  Yes! I've run into that a few times, (0+ / 0-)

                    I'm sure we all have. Once, when I bought bulk coffee, I had 5 oz., and the clerk asked if I wanted a half pound. I said, "No, I want 5 ounces." But, then I had to tell her how to calculate that, she had no clue. Another time, a store clerk was trying to figure out how much my 10% discount would be - he actually picked up a pencil and started trying to calc it!

            •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

              ...The shear number of people who cannot handle a math problem given in words, cannot do basic algebra (If X + 7 = 10, what is X,) can't figure out that a 2L bottle of pop at $1.75 is a much worse deal than two 1.5L bottles at $.99 each, cannot parse a functional logical statement (If A, do B and C.  If D or E, do F, unless G,) and who can't comprehend things like "the sun is much bigger than the moon, even though they appear the same size from the Earth, because the Sun is much further away from us than the moon is," continually astonishes me.

              I don't know how many people could solve the building-rope problem, even with a scientific calculator, but I'd guess it's less than 10% of the population who haven't taken a math course in the last five years.  The number who would be able to solve it without any real calculation because they realized that the side lengths are all multiples of ten of a Pythagorean triple is probably along the lines of 1-2%.

              •  I didn't understand that problem nt (0+ / 0-)
                •  Basic trig. (0+ / 0-)

                  It's asking for the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle where the two other sides are 40 feet and 30 feet respectively.

                  (It's also a shitty problem.  It's looking for '50 feet', but the real-world answer is 'fifty feet and some, probably 55, but bring at least sixty' since in the real world, you'll need extra to tie the knot at the top and to compensate for sag in the rope.)

              •  The Triangle Problem is Easy (0+ / 0-)

                Two sides are 30 and 40 and forms a right triangle.  This means it is similar to a 3-4-5 triangle.  So the answer is 50.

                Of course I am a professional statistican so your results may vary.

                I am a statistician, not a magician although we are easily confused. I guess that explains why people keep trying to tie me in chains and place me under water.

                by Edge PA on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:41:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

                  It's easy -- if you remember your pythagorean triples.  Which of course most people forget by the time they're a year out of the grade in which they learned them -- and if you've got no experience working with ropes or cables strung out over more than the most negligible of distances.

                  My issue with questions like this is that if you have ever strung a rope between two structures as it talks about -- that is, if you know reality and aren't familiar with impossible abstractions being the correct answer on tests -- the rope question is very difficult to answer.  Like I said in a comment above, the 'perfect' answer is '50 feet', but since you can't put an infinite amount of tension on a rope, and ropes sag and need to be attached to what you're attaching them to, the real answer's probably more like 55 feet for a thin rope, but you risk looking stupid if you don't bring along at least 60 to make sure.  It really requires a culturally-specific and actively cultured brand of insanity, generally instilled in grade school, to deal with these kinds of questions, because you must give a 'correct' answer which you -know- is wrong.

                  When I was in the lower grades, I often had problems with questions like this, until I recognized that test question didn't actually want the -real- answer, just the 'perfect' one -- which would send you back to the store, cursing, for more rope in the real world.  It's the kind of question only a grade-school math teacher would ask, and expect the wrong (to reality) answer.  If you were performing this task on the job and you cut a rope to 50' before you went to hang it, your boss would wind up bitching you out for wasting rope, or wasting the time needed to splice more rope in.  Calculating the true-to-life, correct answer is rather hideously complex, involving taking into account the maximum amount of tension you can apply to the rope (which is limited by both the breaking strain of the rope and the attachment method,) the mass of the rope per linear inch, the length of the total amount of rope used (not just the 'perfect' length,) the force of gravity, and the amount of rope needed to secure the rope to the endpoints.  It requires a whole lot of advanced math, up to and including calculus.  (See for the equations if you're interested.)  

                  A much, much better way to ask the same question would be to phrase it as "You wish to divide a 30' x 40' ballroom in half by laying a rope down the middle, diagonally.  How much rope will you need?"  Or: "You cut across a 30' x 40' field diagonally in a straight line that goes through both corners, how far will you walk?" Or even, if you want to be lazy, the same question with "Assume the rope is not affected by gravity and is glued on by the endpoints" appended to the end.

                  •  See my signature (0+ / 0-)

                    I am a statistician - I make no claims that my understanding of any problem will have any actual use.  But I am always willing to provide a generous margine of error.

                    I am a statistician, not a magician although we are easily confused. I guess that explains why people keep trying to tie me in chains and place me under water.

                    by Edge PA on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:32:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Basic skills in kids today have not declined (11+ / 0-)

            That myth is perpetuated by the business roundtable & the US chamber of commerce.


            •  No myth (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chimene, radical simplicity

              And the link provided, so far as I can tell, discusses the US in relation to other countries, but says nothing about whether basic skills have declined.

              In fact, they have declined. They had already declined when I first started college teaching 35 years ago, and have only gotten worse. For comparison, I look at my own mother, who never finished high school, and her friends and others of her cohort who had only high school educations. Among other things, I see that they can read, write coherently, and divide up a check in their heads—no calculator necessary. In contrast, 70% or so of the middle class kids I teach at a supposedly "competitive" private university can't read, can't write, and, fresh from multiple years of US and world history, haven't got a clue as to the difference between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

              The decline is paralleled by decades of vastly increased spending on education. In my considered opinion, we get very little for the money, and much of the blame lies on the doorstep of the Education Establishment, which for all its boasting about training and standards, can't seem to get results. We should junk the entire system and go back to whatever they were doing in 1912.

              •  Your personal experience tells you one thing (12+ / 0-)

                My experience tells me another. I'm 66 and I remember people who grew up in the first part of the 20th century. Many were illiterate. Many others were marginally literate, if that. If that is your standard, you are setting a very low bar.

                Moreover if we go back to 1912, there would be a substantially smaller percentage attending school and graduating from high school.

                This is one of the reasons I don't hang around with many older folks. They whine too much about the old days. As Will Rogers said many years ago, "Things ain't what they used to be, and they never were.”

                Incidentally, you're part of that Education Establishment.

                A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                by slatsg on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:48:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Education Establishment (0+ / 0-)

                  to which I very clearly referred is that nexus of "certified' teachers and the "Education Departments" that putatively train and certify them to teach elementary and secondary school. There has been a vast increase in such departments and "trained" personnel over past 100 years—to very little effect.

                  As a university philosophy teacher, I have nothing whatsoever to do with these people, nor am I any part of their establishment.

                •  personal perspectives vs overall stats (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Linda Wood

                  I'm 58, life-long rural, and never personally met anyone who is illiterate. (And as a BIG Will Rogers "fan," I would urge people to spend some time reading his works, in part because what he wrote about the years leading up to the Great Depression shows an era that was so eerily similar to today's.)

                •  youngster! (0+ / 0-)

                  You whine too much.  Perhaps when you reach my age (72) you'll stop whining?

              •  What they were doing in 1912 was NOT (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                antboy, slatsg

                Graduating students.  Children were routinely required to drop out of school to go to work to help provide for their families.  The were largely illiterate, and ignorant.  Far more of them were failed by the education system of the time, than todays students. But they worked damn hard.
                If that's the attitude you have about your students, and all the knowledge you have of the history of education that you're opining on,, I urge you to find a different job.

                •  So the good news (0+ / 0-)

                  is that today we a large number of students who don't have to drop out for economic reasons, but who are not accomplishing much of use, either.

                  FYI, it's not my attitude that has failed these students, nor my knowledge (or lack therof) about the history of education—it's the public education system whose products I am landed with.

              •  70% of your college students can't read? What are (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slatsg, Hawksana, bartcopfan

                the ACT admissions standards for the college where you teach?  

                Just gave my 17 yo son, public school student a pop quiz on the Revolutionary vs. Civil War.  I asked, "Tell me what you about the Revolutionary and Civil War."    

                As a junior (as of today - first day of school!), I got a 15 minute discussion complete with when, where, why, who were the major generals, a few key battles such as Saratoga and Gettysburg with their importance .  Tthen, he tied the two together with a discussion about how they were related in that the South went to war in both cases in order to preserve slavery.  He supported his thesis with the Somersett Case (He didn't know the year of the case, but he knew it was in the early 1770's) and South Carolina's declaration os seccession.  

                This was from his 5th and 8th grade American History classes and his World Civ. class last year.

                My son is not a genius.  Specifically, his IQ is 105.  He works moderately hard at school, but gets A's, B's, and C's.  We live in KY.  

                He asked how he did.  I gave him an A.  He's taking American History AP, this year, so I dare say his answer will be even better by the end of the year.  However, I'm pretty pleased with his answer, now, and the education being offered to him in his public school.

                Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                by bkamr on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 02:54:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Congratulations on your son, (0+ / 0-)

                  who sounds like he is making the most of his education. Sad to say, he is unusually competent.

                  To say what I said more clearly, I should have phrased it that the 70% that I say cannot read or write, cannot do so in a competent fashion. They cannot engage with anything except remarkably simple materials with any comprehension, and they cannot write straightforward explanatory sentences, let alone organize sentences into meaningful paragraphs. Basically, they cannot think. When I quiz them about their high school education, I find that they have been asked to read and write very little. Whatever else they have been doing, it has not been mastering these essential skills. My entirely anecdotal impression is that 35 years ago students were not brilliant, but they were overall better prepared for college work.

                  •  Disagree (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I saw the same thing with my own daughter and her friends. Not exceptional - average. Maybe public perception has been skewed by years of teacher-bashing by Republicans and mainstream media?

                    •  Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm (0+ / 0-)

                      getting pretty tired of hearing how awful our schools are, and how basically inept the young generation is, today.  My son is doing much more advanced work than I did in high school -- back in the 70's.  I didn't really learn to write until I was in college -- not really.  I get tired of the school, teacher, and younger generation bashing.

                      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                      by bkamr on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 05:11:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Maybe 70% is a little high (0+ / 0-)

                    though I have noticed many college-educated adults in business who cannot write a coherent letter or comprehend simple written language.  I worked as a secretary (and forced editor) for over 30 years and it never failed to shock me how poorly some people write.  I had one boss who continually used run-on sentences that went on for 2 or 3 pages.  He often wrote inappropriate responses to letters because he did not understand what the writer was really asking.  I can't count how many times I had to explain tactfully what the writer was was asking.  My current boss types her own inter-office memos, and you wouldn't believe the misspellings, gramatical errors and run-on sentences that get circulated among the entire staff.  She's a great manager but her writing skills leave a lot to be desired.

                •  your son (0+ / 0-)

                  is not a statistically significant sample...  

              •  questionable (0+ / 0-)

                My daughter began learning to read in Head Start. I think it would be very difficult to find a first grader today who can't read. How would it be possible for ANY middle school kids to be illiterate, given the range of required tests, and the special ed options available today?

            •  no--I see it myself. I've been working with kids (0+ / 0-)

              for years.  It's completely accurate.  Yes, the industry uses it for their own gain--but it's still true.

          •  Critical Thinking, though (8+ / 0-)

            Critical thinking is the one thing NOT tested on that exam. It's all memorization and rote calculation. And yet it's the aspect most emphasized in schooling today: Essay responses which gauge the ability to meaningfully craft and support a hypothesis, word problems where the actual problem is cloaked in a scenario.

            It's no accident: Over time, human thinking has become far more abstract, in response to the changes in our work environment.

            Those who ignore the future are condemned to repeat it.

            by enigmamf on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:41:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

              This was exactly what I thought as I read the test.  My children have been given critical thinking assignments since they were in elementary school.  I always felt that for kids so young, the schools should have still been focused on making sure they had an adequate store of basic facts (memorization) and then introduced critical thinking in middle school.

          •  And don't forget (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            conniptionfit, chimene, NonnyO

            The answers all require writing, even some of the math answers.

            Some of the history I could have answered while I was in school but cannot remember now. I only can place some of the battles, and only have a hazy memory of a description of the battle of Quebec, with a picture of the cliff illustrating it. Math word problems matter. I figured out each equation, but didn't do all the calculations for the math. I was satisfied that I knew how to figure each out.

            It's hard to judge spelling when the words are in front of you. I was fair at the grammar and do remember how to parse and diagram sentences.

            I still think kids should be learning this stuff. Questions like describe a battle - how many teachers could do that?

            I remember reading the Little House books and being amazed at things like reciting history, and the things she did to become a teacher (while a high school student).

            Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

            by ramara on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:46:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What's your point? (9+ / 0-)

            That test was developed by a proponent of the radical behaviorism wing of the American education establishment influenced by behaviorists Ivan Pavlov and Edward Thorndike.

            If you want to know the truth of it...historically, Americans have not been good test takers. What we do excel in is creativity...until now.

            When tests are the focus of the curriculum, as they are now, you will have a curricular experience based on the homogenization of the mind. In other words, children learn within a mono-culture of mind. Developmentally, psycho-emotionally, intellectually, this is bad for children.

            If one looks at the Internationale TIMMS assessments, American children from the upper socio economic strata do just fine...

   the mind works within conditions that require synosis is what really counts.

            But don't tell that to the corporate reformers who are cheating American children out of trans disciplinary learning experiences in the classroom.

            For the corporate rulers who make education policy,  American children who attend public schools, trans disciplinary learning experience doesn't matter....Rote based, high stakes test prep is what matters!!! American corporate reformers love that test prep!

            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

            by semioticjim on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:12:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're flat wrong. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity, bkamr

            They're teaching algebraic concepts in the 3rd grade today. Elementary routinely covers geography, countries, Capitol cities, etc. Reading comprehension and writing skills are heavily focused on in all grades.  But they don't bother to teach beautiful copperplate penmanship anymore.

        •  More children are educated now (6+ / 0-)

          Compulsory education and child labor laws existed in some places then, but even in many places where they existed, the laws were not enforced.

          Eighth graders are usually fourteen, and in many places fourteen-year old children could work full time.  If they were working class, or "special needs" children, or just not interested in school, they got out of school and into the work force as quickly as possible.

          Once universal education was established, the education system had to change to accommodate all children, not just those who expected to go to college.

          Just because the government keeps a record of real property transfers, it doesn't mean that the government wants to confiscate your home.

          by NCJan on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:53:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  They didn't teach foreign languages (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In school in those days, outside of Latin, and maybe Greek.  Depending on the type of school.

      •  plate tectonics may not have existed in 190x's (0+ / 0-)


        "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

        by chimene on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:42:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it didnt. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Tectonics theory wasn't developed until sometime in the first few decades of this century, and wasn't accepted until the 50's 60's. I've a friend who's neigh 70, and had a professor in college who considered tectonics to be a fad, as it wasn't held up by enough evidence.

          Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

          by somewierdguy on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 10:26:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  1912: In certain areas of the US... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, fenway49, mayim
        I'm not sure what they were doing in foreign language in 1912, but foreign lang. curricula at the high school level are very poor, by and large (obviously there are exceptions)
        ... people were bilingual because they, or their parents, were from a foreign country.  At home the kids spoke the language of their parents, and outside the home they spoke - or learned - English in school.

        I've been doing genealogy research for 50+ years and use the US census forms (currently 1790 through 1940; they are kept from the public for 72 years).  1850 forward there starts to be more useful info (sometimes supplemented with other info in states that produced a state census in years ending in 5).  1900 is the watermark year.  [Don't ask about 1890 unless you're prepared to deal with hysterics; avid genealogists with OCD regarding getting documents are still crying over that.]

        1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 US census forms ask the location of birth for each person (1900 they were asked month and year of birth), plus the location of birth for each parent (1940 asks the location of birth of the person, but not the parents).  One set of questions involves 'able to read, able to write, able to speak English.'  For a couple of those census years, they asked women who were mothers the number of children they'd given birth to and how many were living.  For one year the age at first marriage was listed.  In another, the number of years married was listed.  Marital status started to be given in 1900.  For several years the head of household was asked if s/he owned the property free and clear or if it was mortgaged, and if it was a farm (vs. just a house, as in a city dwelling, no added farm land).

        I'm guessing in areas that had been settled by immigrants ca 1880s who came for homestead land [see Homestead Act of 1862] the children were busy learning English (if they had accents like their parents, they were probably trying to lose that, too).  There were no classes to accommodate people who spoke only foreign languages in those days.  When a girl a year ahead of me in high school started first grade in 1951 she had to learn English.  Her parents only spoke Norwegian in the home and she didn't know any English.  So, in addition to the other things she had to study, there was a crash course in learning how to speak English.

        If any schools had a foreign language in 1912, I'm thinking perhaps schools back east and colleges, and probably more classical languages like Latin, Greek, French, German.  In the middle of the country where there were so many immigrants who came for farm land, they were busy learning English in elementary school unless someone in the home was bilingual and they could speak both English and their mother-tongue.  Often their schooling was cut off at eighth grade because they were needed at home for farm or household labor.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:46:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I almost forgot... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, mayim

        In 1940 one of the questions on the US census forms was 'Highest grade of school completed.'  The answers are interesting for the adults in the households (children are still in school so the highest grade they've completed is what grade they were currently in).

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 10:07:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As best I can remember (0+ / 0-)

        stories from my childhood, high school at that time included NO foreign languages. Those were reserved for college studies, or practical application studies, such as when you are dumped into the middle of some country where you knew nothing but where you were, OR you wanted to do business with someone from another country.  Either way, you could pick up a lot in a very short time.  Even when I was in high school, late 50's, early 60's, most schools were lucky if they had a foreign language class, as it was NOT required by the state board of education.

    •  agree (0+ / 0-)

      Same here, concerning my own daughter. I was very surprised to see her completing the same courses I took in high school while she was still in elementary school. That's in addition to numerous courses that we didn't have, such as elementary school computer proficiency classes.

  •  This test was fun. (7+ / 0-)

    When I was in high school I competed in the Texas Interscholastic League slide rule and number sense contests.

    The number sense tests were very similar to the questions in the arithmetic section of the subject of this diary.

    We had to work the problems in our heads and we could write only the answers on the paper. If we had any erasures we were disqualified. We had ten minutes to answer as many questions as we could, up to 100 problems. We got five points for each correct answer and we lost ten points for each incorrect answer.

    Anyhow the test shown above contains a few errors, but overall it was excellent.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:17:03 AM PDT

  •  Just remember (37+ / 0-)

    When this test was given, the eighth grade was the most education the vast majority of the country could expect to receive.  Therefore, it was a test of what folks were expected to know as adults.

    My grandfathers were of this era.  One only had four years of formal education but spoke four languages fluently, had no trouble with algebra or geometry, and was so historically literate he would have made the history professors I have known look damn foolish.  The big difference was that generation could not expect to spend their youth in school so learned how to read difficult books.  My grandfathers read all their lives—and it showed.

    •  Also It Was to Select the Few Worthy of (15+ / 0-)

      advanced education. I'm waiting for evidence that 2/3 of the students or more would pass with at least a D back then.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:36:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The european system is still like that-- where (13+ / 0-)

        students are evaluated at the middle-school level to gauge their academic promise, and many are guided toward technical schooling or lower-level advanced education quite different from the demanding curriculum students receive if they can get into the good universities.  At least that's the case in Spain, France, Germany and the UK.

        That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

        by concernedamerican on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:45:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is not a bad thing. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          techno, cpresley, txcatlin, mayim

          It allows students that simply have no interest, or aptitude for college to get an excellent non college oriented education.  And vocational skills that lead to actual good jobs.  My husbands family has a carpentry, furniture company (handarbeit) in Germany.  None of them went to university, and yet all of them make a good living and are respected in their community for their skills.  Somehow in the US we decided that college track was the only worthy track for students, therefore all students regardless of desire or ability had to be squashed into that track.

          •  Very true. I lived for a year in Germany and came (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            techno, mayim

            away terrifically impressed by the educational system with regard to the esteem granted technical training and the very sane recognition that the state, and communities, need to provide good technical training to all sorts of people who will then grow up and help the economy flourish through their work.  

            It's about a state investing resources in its people, and seeing its people as crucial to the success of the nation.  Here in the USA we seem to have lost that understanding.

            That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

            by concernedamerican on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:51:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Mine too. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, NonnyO, techno, kurt, mayim

      My maternal grandfather was 13 in 1912, so he would have taken something similar to graduate. He was already working on the family dairy farm (he was also the only boy), so he did that for the next few years. He actually tried to get drafted in WW1, but the local draft board had him down as an "essential agricultural worker" so he never even came close to wearing a uniform.

      After the war, he was selected to go Washington Agricultural and Mechanical (now Washington State University) for further education at very reduced fees, but his father started having health issues during his first year there, so he left after one year and returned home. That was all the education he ever had. It was also about the last time he had anything to do with dairy cows...

      He did pretty well, surviving the Great Depression, surviving my grandmother (she was neither the kindest nor the best of grandmas), and lived to be 98. He saw both of his daughters graduate from college, and and all of us grandchildren as well. I like to think he was a success.

      And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

      by itzadryheat on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Autodidacticism (5+ / 0-)

      is a great thing. I was lucky in that my teachers in middle and high school taught us how to teach ourselves. We learned to analyze what we read and were encouraged to go out and learn things on our own throughout our lives. I've applied that ever since (I graduated from high school over 30 years ago) and can honestly say I've learned more informally and outside of classrooms than I've learned in them... and I'm not without formal higher education, either. I've always been a bookworm, thanks to my parents.

  •  My daughter starts kindergarten (16+ / 0-)

    in about two weeks... there will be a "Curriculum Night" at the school to outline what will be covered during the school year.  It will be interesting to see what they are teaching pupils now.  

    Some schools in this country are doing better than others, for obvious reasons:  they are either private schools or public schools in affluent areas where the residents can afford more in taxes to educate their children.  Charter schools and vouchers are bleeding the public schools of money they need to improve education, especially in poorer school districts.  The 8th grade test from 1912 reflects a time when there was a much stronger commitment to public education among the public and among politicians; there was more of an understanding that education was a public good that gave a return to society as a whole.  Now, we have an "every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost" attitude that discourages anything approaching the notion of the public good.  This is sad and shameful.

    For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. --John Maynard Keynes

    by Kurt from CMH on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:18:45 AM PDT

  •  Republicans would fail Physiology question 3 (10+ / 0-)
    "3. Describe the heart."

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:32:38 AM PDT

  •  This test is biased. (25+ / 0-)

    I notice a lack of bible-based truth, and failure to accurately prepare students for the true challenges of their lives.

    This needed more flexible work scheduling and simple math involving fast food orders.


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:38:39 AM PDT

  •  "Endeavor" is misspelled in the spelling test. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zerelda, BuckMulligan

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10 UID: 8519

    by Bob Love on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:38:45 AM PDT

    •  "Secrete" is misspelled, too. (12+ / 0-)

      Simply because this material was taught in 7th grade in 1912, does not mean that the material was either educational, or somehow harder.  It doesn't follow that today's adults (or children)  did not get a rigorous education simply because they can't correctly answer questions that were commonly applicable 100years ago.  It would be equally unfair to administer a test given to today's 8th graders to students from 100 years ago.  It was an entirely different world then, and the knowledge necessary to functioning in yesterday's world is different from today's world
      This is interesting trivia.  Nothing more.  Drawing any conclusions about the quality of education today from this test is logically null.

      •  sure about that? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Love, FarWestGirl

        sometimes those secondary/tertiary definitions mean the use of an alternate nomenclature ...

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:12:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think they meant the one related to (9+ / 0-)

        secretion, not secrecy. ;-)

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 04:05:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but they spelled that wrong too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's typed as "secrate." Probably a typo more than the authors of the test not knowing how to spell it.

          "I am not for a return to that definition of Liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few." Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1934

          by fenway49 on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:46:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Also... (5+ / 0-)

        Rule number one of assessment is that students are assessed on material they have studied. No one has studied this material recently. For most adults, taking a test they passed in 8th grade themselves would be somewhat difficult as they likely have not interacted with that material or prepared for such a test recently.

        It is, as you say, logically invalid to use stuff like this to evaluate education or intelligence.

      •  I'm a good speller (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandy on Signal

        "Endeavor" is misspelled. So is "secrete." So is Sir Walter Raleigh.

        What, didn't they have a spell checker? Or a dictionary?

        The question about cords of wood would have been relevant back then. Nowadays, it's less important. How much is a rod or a furlong or a hogshead? Or a bushel or an acre or a section?

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:29:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A section of land... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, mayim, Dbug

          ... is 640 acres.  A quarter section of land - 160 acres - is what people got when they applied for a land grant, and if they improved the land they got the deed for that same 160 acres.  The legal descriptions on the deeds go by latitude and degrees north.

          When you're a farm kid, you grow up using these terms.

          If you're a genealogy researcher you go to the Bureau of Land Management - General Land Office records web site (aka BLM-GLO), search for the name you are looking for, and can see and download the Land Grant deed.  If you want the additional paperwork, that'll cost money.

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 10:46:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Clearly a typo on the part of the typesetter for (0+ / 0-)

      the newspaper this came from.  "Eneeavor."

      "Woe to those who make unjust laws,
    to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights
    and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, 
making widows their prey
    and robbing the fatherless."

      by Snarky McAngus on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:54:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh oh, I got some of these! (15+ / 0-)

    Civic government:

    Name the Three branches:.

    Um... lemee see...

    Koch Brothers, Richard Murdock, and um... Big Corp Lobbyists?

    How is the President elected?

    Hmmm... scratches head...

    The Supreme Court votes to void counting ballots and picks a winner, then get paid speaking tours and a book deal?

    Um... forms of government?

    Democracy: Rule by large corporate interests.
    Limited Monarchy: Rule by large corporate interests through a proxy of a family of white trash.
    Absolute Monarchy: Rule by Richard Murdock
    Republic: Rule by Fox News?

    Oh, I got one for Geography too:

    Locate the following countries...

    Trick question, designed to root out socialists and atheists.

    Um... History.

    What president was Impeached?

    Question is worded slightly wrongly... should be plural.


    Some old white guy long ago - nobody freaking cares.
    Clinton - He was a socialist wanker who played with his willy.
    Obama - looking forward. Impeached for being a darkie, and obviously, an Islamic plant.

    3 rights of Congress:

    Right to obstruct anything.
    Right to insult the President during speeches.
    Right to become grossly paid lobbyist and enter real government.

    Rights denied:
    No right to get anything done.
    No right to fund government or the welfare of the common people.

    Um... How'd I do?


    •  I read the one about the four governments and (6+ / 0-)

      school children as "Which of these four forms of government are school children subjected to?"  I was wavering between "Absolute Monarchy" and "Limited Monarchy" until I re-read the question.

      •  Ok, can you explain that question to me then? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orinoco, madhaus, Chinton, cpresley, mayim

        Because "To what four governments are students in school subjected?" makes no sense to me.

        In fact, many of the questions are poorly worded and subject to alternative interpretations.

        I've seen this test before. It's been kicking around for a long time and has been pulled out over and over to "show" how poorly educated our current generation is. Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum has it on her site, too.

        This test was a entrance exam for the top 20% of 8th graders who would go on to high school (only 10% graduated). People studied hard for it. It's not some kind of average test that most people were expected to pass.

        Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

        by ohiolibrarian on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:34:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  City, county, state and federal (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Praxical, Sandy on Signal, bartcopfan

          governments, in varying degrees, affect students in school. Well, they affect everybody, students included.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:00:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When you ask specifically about students (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            wouldn't you think that the question refers specifically to students?

            I'm sure the people taking this test were taught the information such that this question made sense. But now, it's just idiotic.

            Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

            by ohiolibrarian on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:16:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe... (0+ / 0-)

              or it might have been one of those 'lets see if they make the connection' between learning about those levels of government for 'citizens' and themselves personally.

              If you get into things specifically referring to students you might have things like school boards or school administrations, which, by a stretch, might be considered governments of a sort.

              Of course, some students might not live in a city or town, in which case government might stop at the county level. Who knows? Certainly not I.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:43:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I love librarians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          thanks for being one.

        •  The governments, (0+ / 0-)

          from the top down, would be Federal, State, County, and local School Board.  Unless you actually lived in a City, would have been no city government involved in your education.

    •  Those answers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenearth, mayim, bartcopfan

      Right up there as the one from the show Cheers , in the Cliff Clavin -Jeopardy episode and his final jeopardy response.

      "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur"; the correct response is "What were the real names of Cary Grant, Tony Curtis and Joan Crawford?

      Cliff's response,
      Who are 3 people who have never been in my kitchen?

      Government of, for, and by the wealthy corporate political ruling class elites. We are the 99%-OWS.

      by emal on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:56:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The civil government section made me particularly (12+ / 0-)

    saddened, as civics has been cut from most school curricula over my lifetime.  When I was in elementary school and junior high we learned the things in that section-- but most schools nowadays don't teach kids those things, even if they appear in textbooks, as the schools teach to the standardized tests.

    In our son's middle school the 8th graders study civics and the year culminates with a trip to D.C.  This is one reason why we love paying the high property taxes where we live, as we are funding a good education for our child.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:41:42 AM PDT

    •  Yes... Perhaps the worst current (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DSPS owl

      education lack.

      Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

      by ceebee7 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 02:38:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would have never gotten out of the 8Th Grade (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, FarWestGirl

    in 1912,I just squeaked by in '69 as it was.

  •  Ask where the Aral Sea ranks among large lakes (6+ / 0-)

    The answer changed since 1912.  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:39:28 AM PDT

  •  Pretty hard, but memorizing... (8+ / 0-)

    Civil War generals, rote math problems, names of body parts, locations of rivers, and the eligibility requirements for Kentucky's governor hardly seem to involve critical thought, creativity, or culturally relevant knowledge for an increasingly diverse America today.

    "Individual liberty is served, not negated, by a recognition of the common good." - President Barack Obama

    by jwendland on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:42:11 AM PDT

    •  people needed to know the math (4+ / 0-)

      so they would not be cheated by businessmen who DID know math

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:36:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, what a crappy test (0+ / 0-)

      I can't believe this is getting so much support as some kind of indication of how bad current education is. This test is no better than the standardized tests kids take today. The students memorize the facts and then promptly forget them later. The math problems are about the only questions that require critical thinking.

      I see some commenting up-thread that the kids today may learn this stuff earlier then forget it. Well, what do you think the majority of students did when they were finished with this test? Some may remember facts, but most have long forgotten them.

      This doesn't even get into the fact that the students would have studied this information for the test, so of course they'd do better on it. Surely we can avoid the shallow comparison to today's education. This kind of crap is often used for right-wing propaganda purposes, pushing some bs education reform.

  •  The history is fairly straightforward, except (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, greenearth

    for the sketching part.

    Same with spelling. The English would be tough because of the change in vocabulary.  Teachers don't use the phrase "declination" anymore, but if you changed the language of the instruction, some of those questions would be easy.

    The biology part is pretty straightforward too.  I learned that stuff in 8th grade.

    The civil government is the tough one.  There are the basic ones, but I doubt any 8th grader knows the local county officers. And as for electoral college votes, that one is really tough.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:42:22 AM PDT

  •  #5 on geography would be difficult (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, Square Knot

    as the borders changed several times because of the Balkan Wars.

    •  That's the one that caught my attention (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Square Knot, mayim

      Largest states did as well and I missed it because I wasn't sure what was smaller than California but bigger than New Mexico. Another one was the Erie Canal. The canal in 1912 wasn't the same route as the modern canal built in 1918. Now, if the purpose was the general idea, then "connects Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes to the Hudson River and thus the Atlantic Ocean" is a perfectly fine answer.

      But honestly, a lot of the test is straight-up memorization. I've never had to diagram a sentence, but teach me how to do it and I'll regurgitate it for you. The geography question involving Serbia and Montenegro would be meaningless when my grandparents were in eighth grade (say the early 1930s), meaningless when my parents were in eighth grade (in the early 1960s), but would have meaning when I was in eighth grade in 1996, assuming you allow for changes in borders resulting from the breakup of Yugoslavia.  Also, I have no idea what the five zones are.

      In addition, I wonder about the "cause of the War of 1812" question. I don't remember what I was taught in school. These days, I'd probably say the impressment of American sailors by the British and British interference with American trade both due to the Napoleonic Wars, but that (much like the Civil War) there were a number of reasons.

      •  Diagramming sentences (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        too many people

        was not something you could regurgitate easily. I was taught diagramming in school, because we were expected to use correct English (don't use an adverb where an adjective was to be used and vice versa; dependent clauses vs independent clauses, etc.). Not easy and unless you were able to memorize every sentence, you would actually have to analyze a sentence to see what the structure was and if it was correct.


        I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

        by woolibaar on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:51:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If you learned how to diagram sentences, (0+ / 0-)

        Then you would find that grammars are beautiful mathematical structures, and old start to wonder what other things in the world are similar to grammars.

        "No reason why on the street today, a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." Ronald Reagan

        by ldness on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 02:35:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To be fair... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure I could pass some of the exams I took in 8th grade concerning history and grammar and whatnot. If given the opportunity to study this information and then take the exam, I'm sure I would do fine.  But, if you don't use the information, you lose it.

    Granted, it speaks perhaps to a lack of a well-rounded education earlier in life these days, but it also speaks to a lack of retention.

    remember to use positive affirmations. "i am not a dork" is not one of them

    by Altoid77 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 10:38:24 AM PDT

  •  Public school education quality has (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, DSPS owl, arlene, hmi, kurt

    been going down-hill since the 70s...  up until then, my perception and EXPERIENCE is/was that it was pretty good, in that, while we were taught and had to memorize a lot of facts, the overall effect was to teach us (how) to THINK.

    The result was an unusually socially astute generation of young and soon-to-be adults who, along with their formal education, often including college, had learned lots of stuff about "life" from the generally excellent television that existed in the 50s and 60s, in addition to the great newspapers that used to print the truth.  (IOW, a liberal education.)  We looked around and collectively realized lots of the stuff we had been taught -- especially about "civics" -- government and social issues -- as well as history, was bullshit when compared with reality.  And we were pissed and said so, loudly.

    All the resulting social protest scared the shit out of the plutocracy, and an effort to gradually dumb down America through manipulation of education (and television) was initiated.  We're seeing today how well that worked.  

    I'm not just casting stones from the present -- several of my family members were public school teachers who were on hand and saw and experienced what was happening.

    In the words of a then-recently-retired superintendent of public instruction of the Brooklyn, NY school system: "Our educational system is not designed to teach -- it is designed to produce obedient consumers."
    Harper's Magazine, sometime in the 2004-2006 time frame.

    Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

    by ceebee7 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 03:06:56 PM PDT

    •  1950s & '60s TV? (0+ / 0-)

      Car 54, Where Are You?
      Amos 'n Andy?
      Ozzie and Harriet?
      Gilligan's Island?
      I Dream of Jeannie?

      This is what you think built a "socially astute generation"? Assuming it was "socially astute". I recall a lot of those people as just being followers. At one point they followed anti-war protestors. At a later date, they followed Reagan.

      Let's not forget that the 1950s were the decade of McCarthyism and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit of corporate conformity and the flight to suburbia.

      Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

      by ohiolibrarian on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:59:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, if you pick the idiot shows... (0+ / 0-)

        I was thinking more of the good shows in TV's infancy... Benny, Groucho, Show of Shows, Van Dyke, Omnibus, early PBS (Channel 9 KQED), Paladin, Sullivan... not the drek you mention.  Also Murrow, See It Now, Dragnet, Allistair Cooke's America...  TV needed to be GOOD to establish itself.  More importantly, the influence of TV and its later insufferable mediocrity had not settled upon the masses...  I suppose I was thinking more of the 50s, not 60s so much.  The point is kids were still educated by the school system, not TV, which IMO is more influential upon what children learn today than schools, which unfortunately have been attacked by the extreme right for some time...

        The 50s and 60s generations were taught by teachers, not television.  And yes, they (we) were socially astute, or on the way to becoming so... else the 60s and 70s protests would never have happened.

        By the time Reagan came around, the protesters generation largely hated his guts.  His "followers" were young, had been watching TV crap for too long and their minds were already turning into mush.  I used to shake my head at people who loved Beverly Hillbillies...

        Your categorization of the generation of protesters the same generation who loved Reagan is way off... Were you there?  McCarthyism was history by '54...

        Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

        by ceebee7 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 01:50:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just a point or two ... (0+ / 0-)

          1. None of the TV shows you mention were in the top 10 for the 1950s. Except for Ed Sullivan, none were even in the top 20. Among the top 10 were a reality show, a soap, and a game show. So much for everyone watching quality television.

          2. As for whether Reagan was popular with Baby Boomers (aka the Vietnam War generation), see this 1984 newspaper article Many Baby Boomers Flock to Reagan.

          3. While McCarthy was over by 1954, the environment of fanatic and somewhat hysterical anti-Soviet, anti-anything-even-slightly-Commie that enabled him continued on into (and past) the Reagan administration.

          4. Consider this from a discussion of education reform by ASCD (a professional education society):

          ... an empirical study that examines the relationship between countries' performance on international tests and other indicators of the countries' well-being shows either a negative correlation or no correlation between the two. In this study, Keith Baker, a retired officer of the U.S. Department of Education, looked at the relationship between the results of the First International Mathematics Study (FIMS) and the 11 participating countries' success in terms of national wealth (GDP), rate of growth, individual productivity, quality of life, livability, democracy, and creativity 40 years later. These indicators, according to Baker, should be what really matters to a nation. FIMS was administered in 1964 on 13-year-olds in 11 Western, developed countries. The United States finished second to last. Today, some 40 years later, the students who took the test would be in their 50s and would have been the primary workforce over the last 30 years. If FIMS measured something that matters, that something should have predicted a country's condition to some degree. But Baker found either no correlation or a negative correlation. For those who are especially worried about the United States losing its economic competitive edge because of lower scores of U.S. students, Baker (2007) writes, "In short, the higher a nation's test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance" (p. 102). (my emphasis)

          If you are judging modern education on the basis of test results, I'd like to point out that 1964 is smack in the middle of the period of education that you evidently regard as some kind of 'golden age'.

          OTOH, a high school girl recently won 2nd place at her science fair with this invention.

          Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw. ~John Donne

          by ohiolibrarian on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:31:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Late reply... FWIW... my vantage (0+ / 0-)

            point is and always has been the SF Bay Area...  I suppose that slants my view on humanity... but I also suppose I need the slant that provides.  What happens first in the Bay Area (speaking very generally) eventually seeps into the rest of America... little by little.

            E.g., the top 10 TV list you link to was definitely not the top 10 in Northern California.  And Reagan was very unpopular in the Bay Area... from the time he was governor of CA to President.  He still is, btw.

            Adjusting to living in a police state. 1984 is here.

            by ceebee7 on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 03:55:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It wasn't until the 1970s (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayim, bartcopfan

      that schools were really expected or obligated to educate all students. Kids with disabilities were routinely turned away; minority kids were sent to shop class or encouraged to drop out; it was no big deal if you didn't finish high school.

      When I graduated HS, you could do so without taking algebra. Today, in California, we obligate all kids to take algebra as 8th graders, which in my day was an elite track. They must pass a state exam that includes algebra to graduate HS.

      Good public schools in America are actually very rigorous and have a lot of terrific programs. And your typical school is actually pretty good, especially for kids who care about the material and put the effort in.

      We expect more of the kids today than was expected of us, by far.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 11:19:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not my experience. Dropping out of (0+ / 0-)

        school was big deal, and certainly not routine.  More importantly, CIVICS/government was taught and required.  Passing a heavy US Constitution test was a requirement for being graduated from 8th grade.  In HS, a full year of US History and another of selected civics classes were a requirement for gradutation.

        "Good public schools" -- indeed, are better than they used to be, but my information is that civics is not even taught in many schools today.  The problem is they're mostly all in up-scale neighborhoods...

        My point was that TV today is more responsible for what a child "learns" about life than education is, at least in way too many neighborhoods.  My sister was a teacher; her youngest quit high school, and at that time could not tell me who George Washington was.  She's really bright, but the school system had failed her misberably.  That was in the 80s and 90s.

        I totally agree with you re: "expectations"...  but too many schools are fighting for their lives, thanks to the increase in wealth disparity of the past 40 years.

        Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

        by ceebee7 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 02:12:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  PUBLIC SCHOOLS DO A GREAT JOB! This is a bogus (16+ / 0-)

    diary. Many of those items are not tested because they were dumb things to learn. Most of us learned that there are 8 parts of speech, and some of us nerds can define them all. That doesn't help us spell anything.

    How about these questions:
    1) What is the best way to reboot a computer that has frozen?
    2) What is ROM and what does it do?
    3) With your cell phone, find the ...

    You get what I mean.

    Our education system does wonders with little funding, over zealous mandates, regurgitated ideas from the past, (I have been trained in Blooms Taxonomy at least three times over the past 30 years) and no respect, even on sites like this.

    Start doing some real work on how great our public education is. A full 90% of our students go to public schools. The problems are poverty related and not education related. The problems are respect for learning and teachers compared to sports and celebrity.

    Come on people, get on the side of teachers. We need your support and respect, and we will education your child to think, question, and learn for a lifetime.

    •  US Education Not in Catastrophic Decline! (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boji, millwood, elfling, Yosef 52, antboy, maracucho


      Haven't read it for a while, but:

      If you look at the most widely accepted national test (the NAEP), and if you look at its results over the past few decades, American schools aren't getting worse. They just aren't. You might think they aren't improving fast enough, and that's fine. You might think we spend too much on them, and that's fine too. But based on test scores, today's kids aren't doing worse than kids of the previous couple of generations. Despite the endless doomsaying you hear practically everywhere, they're doing better.
      We have plenty of failing schools, and we should be doing a lot more to figure out how to fix them. It's a disgrace for a rich country like the United States to be failing so many of its kids. At the same time, taken as a whole, the American educational system isn't in decline. That's something you don't hear very often because there are a lot of interest groups who are invested in a narrative of educational failure. But the data just doesn't back them up.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:37:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd add that in the international comparisons, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antboy, GussieFN, maracucho

        for those who would cite them, that American kids who attend public schools with less than 10% in poverty smoke kids in the rest of the world.

        The problem for us is that we have 25% of our kids in poverty and many of them attend schools where more than half the kids are below the poverty line.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 11:21:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCJan, BB Jam Fan, kurt, antboy

      Nearly 10% of the population was illiterate back in 1912. There is no way the education system of 1912 could provide for the needs of Americans today.


      In fact, a lot of those questions would be far more relevant to the families of 1910 than a typical family of today. County officials? Back then, it was someone most likely known by the family. Today? Whoever happens to have the spare cash to run a campaign (developer).

      Military campaigns required grassroots support back in 1910.

      Today, it is a marketing campaign done in Washington and sold to the people.

      •  Current illiteracy rate (0+ / 0-)

        in the US I often see as somewhere between 10-14%. So, not much  improvement. If you really want to weep, read this gov't. report:

        Here's the optimistic part:

        "Although Americans today are, on the whole, better educated and more literate than any who preceded them, many employers say they are unable to find enough workers with the reading, writing, mathematical, and other competencies required in the workplace. Changing economic, demographic, and labor-market forces may exacerbate the problem in the future."

  •  Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nio, mickT, NCJan, greenearth, millwood, elfling, kurt

    In 1912, most kids lived on farms.  Once they learned the 3 "Rs", by 4th grade, usually, they were done with school and driving a team of horses or doing other of the many chores that went with farming.  

    My dad and his brothers went to the 8th grade.  High school would have required a daily train trip of fourteen miles each way and a mile walk to and from the train depot, too expensive.  

    My mother was the only one of five girls to graduate high school in Milwaukee.  As soon as they could, her sisters quit to get paying jobs.

    My late husband did chores before and after school.  He didn't graduate either.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 05:44:56 PM PDT

  •  Ok sure... (0+ / 0-)

    but I bet none of those 8th graders could compose a simple tweet.

    Money doesn't talk it swears.

    by Coss on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 05:50:41 PM PDT

  •  I remember Ken Burns' "Civil War' series on PBS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, greenearth

    A highlight was hearing actors read actual letters home from the young soldiers. Farm boys, by their own words.

    They noted how they had never been away from home before, had only 8th grade schooling etc....

    But their words read like Shakespeare, elegant, expanded vocabulary, flowing grammar. They were the type of 8th grader that could pass this test...My how times have changed!

    •  To be fair, these are the letters that survived (0+ / 0-)

      Thousands more did not, and even some of the letters read on Burns' documentary were barely literate scribbles as well. If your son/husband/lover wrote beautiful eloquent letters, you  were more likely to keep them safe and share them with posterity.

      Times and styles change. No one speaks this way anymore. We write letters how we speak. I would argue that passionate, involved people still write with elegance and elevated vocabulary.

      I would also like to point out that a lot of what my children have been learning in public schools didn't exist, wasn't discovered, hadn't been invented yet.  There is a lot more to learn now so that some educational items are no longer valid to modern life.

      The road to excess leads to the palace of Wisdom, I must not have excessed enough

      by JenS on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:41:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They misspelled "endeavor" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justanothernyer, WillR, NCJan

    Damned typos.

    I've seen this test before.  It's evidence that when high school became universal, all the stuff that was supposed to be taught by the 8th grade crept into the higher grades.  And now that a college degree has become the standard for employability, the same thing is happening to higher education.

    And so it goes.

    -5.13,-5.64; GOP thinking: A 13 year path to citizenship is too easy, and a 5 minute background check is too burdensome. -- 1audreyrenee

    by gizmo59 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:25:16 PM PDT

  •  So, we've finally ceded that then. At least it's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Many recent studies have indicated that American education has been lagging those of industrialized countries.

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:30:01 PM PDT

  •  oh darn I failed it, do I go back to 7th grade (0+ / 0-)

    oh wait when my forebears lived at that time they would not have been allowed to attend such school as kids

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:31:54 PM PDT

  •  A couple of thoughts . . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenearth, Praxical, arlene

    1)  The measurements in the Math section should use SI units.  The rest of the world as moved on. The US should do the same.

    2) In the civics sections. Two rights denied by Congress.
    a) Equal Suffrage. The 19th Amendment  was 11 years away.
    b) No direct election of Senators. The 17th Amendment was 4 years away.

  •  a lot of this is trivia (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BB Jam Fan, left turn, kurt, antboy, mayim, JenS

    while it may have been a good indication that someone was paying attention in class, I'm not sure knowing who first discovered Florida (or what white person did - which is what they really mean) is an indication of superior intelligence.

    modern education tests should not look like this - nor should history be taught as a set of decontextualized factoids.

    •  Exactly. Now history is taught in context (0+ / 0-)

      It's not as important to know who led what battle and when it occurred as it is to know what conflict was happening and what social and political forces caused it. And what changes resulted.
      And as  much as some red states squawk about going back to "traditional" "patriotic" history, I feel our children should learn about the atrocities visited upon other peoples and cultures. How else are they to avoid the same tragedies?

      The road to excess leads to the palace of Wisdom, I must not have excessed enough

      by JenS on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:48:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did fine until I got to the History. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure my answers for "discovery", "settlement", and "invention" would match theirs though.  The history written by the conquerors has changed...

    I believe the zone question is referring to temperate, torrid, and frigid zones; another outdated we refer to climate zones such as tropical, sub-tropical, polar, etc.  And what I know of the Gulf Stream these days is that it is breaking down rapidly.

    The England-to-Manila by sea question made me smile.  I visualized the route leg by leg and was excited to find I knew the answer...and only later realized that this question was relevant because ocean travel was the only way to go long distances back then.  Today would we ask what major airports and connections served those cities?  To describe a great circle route used in aeronautical navigation?  To discuss different methods of space propulsion and navigation?

    The thought that it would be ordinary for a school to be 2/3 boys and 1/3 girls made me smile.  No longer in most cases.

    What really impresses me is that absent all the fancy instructional methods, vast amounts of testing, influence of corporate educational companies, and mostly without modern formal degrees in education, teachers successfully prepared students for tests such as these.  I'm all for better training of teachers, but let's just let them teach.

    •   You didn't read the question right... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, fenway49, bartcopfan, Square Knot

      120 students and the boys are 2/3 the number of girls.  To figure it out easily you need to think of the total as 5/3rds.  120 ÷ 5 = 24.  the girls are 3/3 or 72 and the boys are 2/3 of that or 48.

      I use math like this all the time as a carpenter.  In fact #8 is simply the 3-4-5 rule carpenters use all the time.  If a triangle is 4 units on one side and 3 units on the other and the diagonal is 5 units then you know the sides are 90°.  So, the answer to the question is 50 feet.

      "Ich bin ein Dachs!"

      by PvtJarHead on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:51:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I see this as conservative meme-drivel. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheGreatLeapForward, antboy, mayim

    And on the front page, no less.  Where to start?

    1) This is, you're telling us, a test to qualify for a scarce resource, high school on a scholarship.  You don't tell us what percentage passed the test or were expected to.

    2) The math is, save for the amortization, pretty much what we ask of middle schoolers today.  Some can do it, some can't.  See my point above.

    3) The science questions are very rudimentary compared to what students in middle school would be in a position to answer today, and it's not because knowledge has advanced.

    4) Who gives a damn about grammar? Good riddance.

    5) 8th graders today know the civics they need to know, and if doesn't align with the excruciating minutiae in the 1912 test, I'm OK with that.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:41:10 PM PDT

    •  Few of the civil government questions seemed... (0+ / 0-) minutiae.

      I would consider part of question 1 not to be very important as worded because I don't think the difference between an Absolute Monarchy and a Limited Monarchy is very important today.

      Probably question 3 isn't very high on the relevance scale where I live as county officers have comparatively little impact on people who live in cities.

      The governor part of question 8 doesn't seem very important (even if adjusted to the state the pupil lives in) unless the state has some odd requirement for eligibility to be governor.

    •  No, 8th graders don't know civics today (0+ / 0-)

      And judging from the screams of "the President can change it!" around here, many adults don't understand their civics either.

      Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

      by PsychoSavannah on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:22:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As if that were the civics taught in 1912! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If anything, we teach real civics much better than they did in 1912, where by the evidence of that document they cared only about formal aspects and nothing about genuine rights and responsibilities.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 03:39:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I was kinda with you until (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4) Who gives a damn about grammar? Good riddance.

      5) 8th graders today know the civics they need to know, and if doesn't align with the excruciating minutiae in the 1912 test, I'm OK with that.

      4. I do.

      5. Trust me, they don't. My wife teaches high school and deals regularly with students who have no idea there's a Congress in Washington and a separate state legislature, nor could they tell you the major difference between the House and Senate, etc. I've had similar discussions with a couple of friends with advanced degrees who are in their 30s.

      When citizens are that ignorant about these things, it's really easy for cynical politicians to engage in something like rampant filibuster abuse with impunity. The public's not outraged because they don't even understand what a filibuster is.

      "I am not for a return to that definition of Liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few." Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1934

      by fenway49 on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:51:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But those things are taught. (0+ / 0-)

        If people aren't learning them, that's a different issue.  We have no way to determine whether a higher percentage of students learned them in 1912.  Comparing yesterday's curriculum to today's "what students actually know" is not a fair fight, and it's unfair in a way that's structured to be reactionary rather than progressive.

        As for grammar, I'm interested in people speaking with grammatical correctness but there's no evidence I know of that this ability correlates with understanding grammar as a distinct realm of knowledge.  

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:49:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If they had voter's tests that info is important (0+ / 0-)

      I've seen some examples of the literacy tests used to suppress the black vote and they included this kind of civics information.

      The road to excess leads to the palace of Wisdom, I must not have excessed enough

      by JenS on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 09:53:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something to Ponder (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BB Jam Fan, left turn, millwood, Yosef 52

    How many of the children who passed that test would have been able to pass it again five years later? Many of those questions have answers that hardly anyone would recall later in life because they aren't things that most people need to know day to day. I agree that this test doesn't cover a typical 8th grade curriculum today, but  it is hardly surprising that most adults can't pass it.

    It is a lot more useful to teach kids how to reason and how find information then it is to stuff them full of a bunch of facts that they will never remember over the long haul.

  •  Do we know this is real? And "Magnetic"? (0+ / 0-)

    "Magnetic" isn't an invention.

  •  Snopes is Not Amused (5+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 07:44:54 PM PDT

    •  Snopes for Attorney General. (0+ / 0-)
    •  This isn't the same test. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The test above is actually real. You can find it on the Bullitt County Historical Museum website.

      •  Missing the point (0+ / 0-)

        Nobody is denying the actual existence of such tests.

        However, that doesn't mean a modern adult being unable to answer these questions is somehow uneducated or that said failure is indicative of a problem with our educational system.

        When I was in fourth grade, we had a section on diseases. I was assigned a research paper on meningitis. I probably could have told you a lot about it then. Other than it's an inflammation of the the membranes of the brain and spinal cord, I couldn't tell you anything about it now.

        Tests like these are designed to be given to people who were recently taught the information in them. The people you see on "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" aren't that stupid. They just haven't recently had a unit on the geography of Africa and don't quite remember that the Nile has two main tributaries, the White and the Blue.

        You remember what you pay attention to and you forget what is not relevant.

        Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by seventh graders for balance. They found your paper "bogus," describing the lab work as "boring." We will be unable to publish your work at this time.

        by Rrhain on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 01:24:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Snopes provides a fantastic breakdown (0+ / 0-)

        as to why pretending this test is at all relevant, real or not, is foolish.

  •  Matters little these days (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenearth, millwood

    That and a dollar gets you a cup of crappy coffee.

    Plus you still have to pass a piss test to get even a crappy job.


  •  Everyone here knows the answers?!!!? (0+ / 0-)

    Jesus/God of course!! // oH WAIT IM NOT AT REDSTATE !!!

    America, We blow stuff up!!

    by IndyinDelaware on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:03:33 PM PDT

  •  wow. why is the author using something (5+ / 0-)

    bogus like this to indict public education?  I'm looking for a bit better analysis...or at least snark... out of a front page diary.

    1.  As many others have commented -- this is a 100 year old test and many items are not old & not critical for students now.

    2.  Many adults wouldn't pass a current 8th grade standardized test.

    3.  ABC sticking a camera and a microphone in some poor pedestrian's face and saying "answer this..." is a recipe for getting wrong answers.

    The fact is that we are educating more students in the U.S. than ever before -- and doing a damn good job of it in an antiquated system.  Our state and federal education policy has been incoherent for at least 30 years...why should we expect the system to be the best in the world?  No different than our health care system, energy policy, etc.

    Find me a failing school in the suburbs and I will show you a school with crappy teachers and administrators.

    •  Exactly- this is crazy nonsense to put on the FP (0+ / 0-)

      I'm glad to see some pushback but I'm disappointed there hasn't been more.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 03:41:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've seen this before, transcibed (0+ / 0-)

    It was about 2000 or so.
    In any case, it's still startling to realize the level of information a teenager could be expected to acquire at the time.
    Radio and moving pictures emerged not long after. Hmmm?
    I can't wait to post my excellent insight in a place where anyone can see it!

  •  Ya know.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What's interesting is that my grandmother only had an 8th grade education.  She was born in 1885.  That means she would have been in 8th grade approx. 1899, 13 years before the test above.
    The test is hard.  How many of today's 8th graders could pass?
    My grandmother apparently passed her test and could have gone on, but she was needed to earn money for her family.
    But it also explains among many other reasons, why my grandmother was never at a loss in any company and remains, to this day, as one of the most intelligent people I've ever known.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:45:07 PM PDT

  •  Bear in mind, it's not what they expected (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Yosef 52, Rich in PA, mayim

    all kids to be able to do.  Only those going on to high school, particularly the ones who might get a scholarship.
    This was designed to find the most capable of students to get high school scholarships.  This wasn't what they average child would know.

    Furthermore, those who had learning problems, were poor or whose parents didn't think education was important weren't even attending school.  They were either home or working by age 12.  That cuts out probably 30-40% of the students.

    Now we expect all students to graduate from high school.  It's a whole different set of students. We have classes of 35 students, some with learning problems, some who don't want to be there, some who have horrible home lives.  In 1912 most of those would have never laid eyes on this test.  We have different kids in school now than we did then.

    Try giving this test to the kids in AP classes.  That would be a more apt comparison.  And still expect 50% to miss half the questions.  I am sure that was the expectation back then.

    Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

    by Leftleaner on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 08:52:08 PM PDT

  •  This is a rehash of the same tired Internet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    nonsense that been around since at least 1999. Back then it was an eighth grade test - or high school test - from Salina, Kansas.

    Snopes does a good job of demolishing the whole premise. Link.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:03:46 PM PDT

  •  Every generation has complained that children (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, bartcopfan

    aren't being taught the basics.

    My grandfather said this. My father said this.

    Now people are saying kids who text aren't learning spelling and grammar. It's just adults saying, "We're smarter than you" or "You kids don't know nothing about skinning a chicken" or "You have calculators. We had to memorize the multiplication tables up to 12 times 12."

    We had to memorize Alexander Pope. And we walked uphill to school and we walked uphill on the way home, too. Through a snowstorm, even in the summer. And mom fed us bread and bacon sandwiches without tomatoes or lettuce. And we learned to drive a stick and change a carburetor.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:39:17 PM PDT

    •  Get off my lawn! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bartcopfan, Dbug

      Aah, those summer snowstorms.  Haven't had one of those in years.  Thank goodness for climate change.

      I do recall one class in college where we weren't allowed to use calculators for some goddamned reason.  I'm not sure the TA sitting in even knew what the 20" log-log decitrig slide rule I pulled out was, but it sure made the multiple-choice parts of the test easy, and served as a sanity check and anti-dyslexic-stupidity check for me for the rest of it.

      'Course, the fact that I was a teenager who not only knew what a slide-rule was, but how to use one to calculate, in the late 90s, made me an anachronistic freak anyway.

      I don't think I ever memorized most of the multiplication tables, 'cause I found it significantly easier to factor things down.  "8*7?  Well, twice seven is fourteen, 14*2 = 28, 28 * 2 = 56.  12*12?  Well, 10*12 is 120, add two twelves = 144."  Many was the test I got crappy marks on, not because I didn't get the right answer, but because showing my work was a futile proposition.

      To my mind, though, once you learn to drive stick, you never want to go back to automatics again.  If nothing else, it makes driving in shitty conditions so much easier; since I started driving stick I never have to worry about my tires cutting loose because of a sudden change in the amount of torque being applied to them because the computer decided it was time to up-or-downshift.  Plus, you can push-start, and when you're driving a shitty beater of a car and can't afford a new battery until the next paycheck, or maybe the one after that, that's a wonderful thing.  And it's one less fluid to worry about checking.

      Carburetors, however, can go take a flying leap.

      In all honesty, though, it's astonishing what 'kids these days' -- really, adults and young adults -- don't know.  I can't believe people don't know what "3% interest annually, compounded daily" means, even when you break it down for them.  Or who have problems calculating a 15/20% tip in their head.  Or who need a pen and paper to divide a number by ten.  (I watched someone do that using long division once; it made me want to shake them and scream "JUST MOVE THE FUCKING DECIMAL POINT!")  And don't get me started on the whole they're/their/there your/you're two/to/too its/it's things.  Or the proper use of an apostrophe when pluralizing (ie, never, except perhaps with acronyms, and even then it's better to avoid.)  I cringe when I hear newscasters use the words "knifes" or "roofs" or "loafs."  (I should note that the fact that my spellchecker flags 'rooves' but not the other three words is a goddamned affront to me.)  Or things like the fact that 'spelt' (goddamn spellcheck again) is not only a grain, but a past tense of 'spell'.  And if you want to show me the fishes in your fish tank, don't look at me funny when you show me a tank with only a single type of fish and I ask "where're the others?"

      •  I agree with most of what you said. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I was really good at multiple-choice standardized/IQ tests like the SAT because I knew how to estimate. For example, what is 0.996 times 32.216? A tiny bit less than 1 times slightly more than 32. Well, 1 times 32 is 32. So, of the multiple choices, is one of them really close to 32? If there's only one, then it has to be the answer. Don't do the math.

        There are a million tricks. If you're taking 19 percent of something, it'll be a little less than a fifth. Same as dividing by 5. And if that's too much work, divide by 10 (move over the decimal point) and then double it. And so on. If you really want to be accurate, take a fifth (20%), then subtract 1/20.

        I love that math is both simple and complicated at the same time. I'm forever astounding people when I do math in my head. Someone at work says, let's see. 3 failures out of 24 (then they pull out a calculator). I say, "12.5 percent" then they punch in the numbers and say, "Yep. 12.5 percent. How did you do that?" Well, because 3/24 is 1/8 and that's 12.5. It's not rocket brain surgery science.

        I'm a great speller, but I've come to recognize that some people just can't spell. I can spell almost any word if I've run across it before. If I spell something wrong, it just looks wrong to my eyes (or my brain). Parallel or paralell? That second one just looks wrong. There are people who are really smart who can't spell. I feel sorry for them. But it's OK. It's not their fault. Their brains work in different ways from mine.

        My one great failure is remembering peoples' names. I just can't do it. I get embarassed if I know I've been told someone's name three or four times (but I still can't remember it). Sometimes I'll ask them straight out. Or I'll just wait til someone else says the name. I can remember names of movies, but not the names of the actors. Once I found myself thinking, "That actor who was in the movie 'Being John Malkovich.' Oh, yeah, his name is John Malkovich." I couldn't remember the actor's name until I thought of the movie.

        Brains are weird.

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:23:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I've got the same problem with keeping faces and names straight.  Whenever I get on a new team at work, it takes me about two months to get all 10-14 people memorized.  And then I'll quickly forget their names once I move to another team and learn their names.  And god help me when someone's trying to tell me about a movie that they can't remember the name of -- "You know, the one with Joe Blow and Jill Who?"  No, no, I don't.  I don't know if this comes from growing up with uncorrected, bad eyesight through most of my teenage years, or because I've probably got a touch of asperger's, but meh.  

          The sad thing is that I don't even consider math to be one of my strengths, particularly now that I've forgotten quite a lot of it.  I'd kill for some kind of review book -- "Everything You Forgot About High School Math."  I don't want to say how many times I took calculus in college before I managed to pass -- with a D.  I fucking suck at memorizing formulae. (Again, fuck you, spellcheck, that's the proper pluralization.  I swear that spellcheck is an insidious force dumbing down the vocabulary of the english language.)

          I'm a moderately good speller -- honestly, significantly better than most, and my working vocabulary is comparatively massive, though there are some words that I know I habitually misspell.  Of course, a lot of this is because I tend to sling English and American spellings indiscriminately, but some of it's just 'I got the wrong spelling ingrained, I guess.  I swear that another portion of it's because accepted spellings have changed a bit.  (I tend to use realise vs realize, for example; realize just looks wrong.  Fuck gray, it's grey, dammit.)  That probably comes from reading a lot of both American and English fiction from a variety of eras, but particularly the mid-twentieth century; I cut my teeth on postwar scifi, fantasy, and horror that I could buy for $0.50 a pop at the local used book store, and picked up anachronistic spelling habits that way.  But most of the words I misspell commonly are words most people wouldn't realise are misspelt, so I guess it works out.  %)  

          I feel much more sorry for the people who seem to be incapable of writing a coherent paragraph than those who suck at spelling.  I mean, even with the most random of spellers, I can still figure out what they're saying, 99% of the time.  I've got friends who are perfectly good at expressing themselves in an intelligent manner verbally, but dear god, they turn into blithering idiots the moment you put them in front of a keyboard, to the point where I cannot interpret the real meaning of what they're trying to express a significant amount of the time, even if everything's spelt perfectly.  Their syntax and grammar are horrible, commas attack randomly and in the most confusing ways, subjects don't agree with pronouns and verbs ... just, augh.  I'd much rather be completely incapable of spelling well than have that sort of structural deficiency when writing.  Not that I don't fuck up my sentence structure on occasion, but dear god, the exception shouldn't be the rule.

          ..I also have a dismaying tendency to write long-winded screeds, as you may have noticed.

    •  Not quite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm appalled on a regular basis here, in a town with public schools considered among the best in the nation, at how many kids working in our stores can't do simple arithmetic. Like the bill comes to $6.09, so I hand them $11.10 and they give me the dime and the single back because they already hit $10 on the register and don't know how to do the math.

      "I am not for a return to that definition of Liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of the privileged few." Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1934

      by fenway49 on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:57:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, yes, yes (0+ / 0-)

        Or if the change is 30 cents and they give you three dimes instead of a quarter and a nickel.

        Or if the bill comes to 6.88 and I pay with 7.13 (because I want a quarter back). Sometimes they give me 12 cents and push the 13 cents back at me. So I say, "12 cents and my 13 cents. Can I have a quarter?" But if they already shut the till, they have to call a manager with the magic key to open the till.


        Something else that bugs me. At a fast food restaurant (like McDonalds), I order a burger. "For here or to go?" "To go, but I don't need a bag. I'm gonna eat it in the car." Sometimes they follow my directions. Sometimes (because the computer screen says "to go") they automatically put it in a bag. Aaargh! So I take it out of the bag, throw away the bag, and go to my car. But it pisses me off because that bag served no purpose and now it's heading to a landfill.

        My local Burger King and Taco Bell are usually better about the bag thing than McDonald's is.


        Plus, you kids, get off my lawn!

        "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

        by Dbug on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 08:41:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wouldn't do the arithmetic unless paid to, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I know I could.  The rest looks very easy.  I finished high school in 1964, roughly halfway between the time of the test and now, so the deterioration in public education must have happened in the last 50 years, not the first 50.  The geography I had in junior high, the civics and history in high school.  Grammar, elementary school.  Physiology, junior high.
    And I wasn't in an elite school but in small-town and rural schools in Virginia.
    My feeling is that anyone who couldn't get a 95 on this probably shouldn't be walking around loose, shouldn't be allowed to drive or vote, and certainly shouldn't be allowed to have children.

    They that have power to hurt, and will do none

    by richardvjohnson on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 09:40:16 PM PDT

  •  Here are the current tests for California (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Rich in PA, Iberian, mayim, JenS

    They're fairly difficult as well.

    This is the 8th grade math:

    This is on the 8th grade science:

    I invite you to sit down and attempt them.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 11:02:03 PM PDT

  •  Many of these questions are asking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, mayim

    for trivial information, especially the history and geography sections. Some of the questions are absurd. Sketch briefly Sir Walter Rawleigh (sic)? The commanders of the last battle in the French and Indian War? Tell what you know of the Gulf Stream? (What would be the criteria for judging the Gulf Stream answer?) Think of all the questions that aren't being asked. Think of all the skills that aren't being demonstrated.

    Any adult who had been specifically prepared for these questions would do fine. That's what always gets me about these tests purporting to show how "uneducated" people today are. The kids taking this had been drilled in this stuff. It really isn't all that exceptional.

    Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

    by Yosef 52 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 at 11:09:57 PM PDT

  •  I'm Going to Use a Calculator and the Internet (0+ / 0-)

    It's a fascinating piece of history, but I'm going to use all the capabilities I have. A smart eighth grader would do the same today.

  •  This makes me sad...I grew up just north of there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and my 2 now grown nieces live there and not a dang one of them could answer any of this after 10th grade. I believe one has a GED now, but I used to administer the GED in Jefferson Co (just north, Louisville) and I can tell you from experience the GED from 1980-1992 wasn't this difficult. I do not come from a learned family. Mostly construction workers and bricklayers and welders. And then in my generation, mostly shiftless, some office workers and real estate agents. And one shunned gay uncle who had a Masters of Fine Arts in Music. He was and continues to be my hero and champion. He thinks I'm amazing and that my running away from there was the best thing I could have ever done. There was a whole plethora of people who were not in my corner on my "bookishness".

    I grew up in Louisville. I was a "bookworm" and was predicted to never marry, etc. But mostly, I was made fun of so much until I left in 1992 for Columbus OH, by my family members and my peers for being an "intellectual snob" because I "read too much" and "was weird" and that my desires to go to college were admirable, but seemingly useless.

    I see this happening all over this country, it seems. The German peasant school systems put in place all over the country in the 1800's has finally produced - sigh - peasants.  Some of them are good-hearted people. But alas, many of them get elected into office and keep dumbing down this country.

    When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

    by Havoth on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 01:37:56 AM PDT

  •  My take. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think the reaction to this has been shock and dismay.  We look at the test and think, my God, I couldn't answer all of that, so could an 8th grader?  But consider...

    1. Much of the math is actually quite easy.  8th graders today are typically doing Algebra.  If you were faced with remembering the Quadratic or putting a linear equation in slope intercept form and graphing it, you would be more thrown.

    2.  The History section has 100 years less American History to test on.  Sure the battle of Lundy's Lane escapes our memory.  But we have two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War to consider.  Lundy's Lane was skirmish in comparison to D-Day or the battle of Midway.  

    3.  This same thing can be said of the sciences.  While the questions shown here aren't that difficulty, the expansion of science since 1912 is enormous.  Students learn about plate tectonics, genetics, quantum theory, Einstein, Cosmology etc.  The scope has expanded enormously.

    4. The Civil Government questions, at least the ones not specific to Kentucky, are not that difficult.  

    5. That leaves Geography and Grammar.  I think it's fair to criticize modern teaching of Grammar.  It went out of favor in the 1970s and it might be a good idea to re-focus on it.  With respect to Geography, students do learn geography, but the scope of what they learn has expanded so much, I don't think you can expect an as in-depth treatment.

    Education has broadened and become less in-depth because our knowledge has broadened.  But during this time, college majors have narrowed, and our career focus has narrowed as well.  We don't train general practitioners so much as specialists these days.  The breadth of knowledge is just too great.

  •  It seems that your point is... (0+ / 0-)
    The subliminal war on education via austerity and transfer of public dollars to for profit education (vouchers) makes the degeneration of the American education a continued slide to mediocrity.
    but I fail to see how this test whether real or not informs that view.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 04:46:39 AM PDT

  •  I will give (0+ / 0-)

    validity to the idea that education now is worse if we had a percentage of adults that would pass that test in 1912

  •  not saying it's an easy test (0+ / 0-)

    but technology and computers and other things are areas where today's kids are very smart on.

    So I wonder how much of this is just different knowledge versus more knowledge.

  •  Proud Grad of a Bullitt Co. School (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...and I didn't do that well.

    That said, I agree with both the commenters who lament the way education is not appropriately supported, and with Snopes.

    Yes, Snopes was dealing with different tests, but the point is the right one: we don't concern ourselves much with some of these topics anymore.  Even the ones we do, we have reinterpreted over time (I confidently described in my head what I believe to be the desired answer to History #5, complete with dramatic conclusion on the Plains of Abraham, only to discover that the museum thinks the school wanted the much smaller American Revolution skirmish.  Whatever.)

    And while it is true that my 10th grader does not do amortizations by hand, it is also true that she read Reza Aslan over the summer as a part of her summer homework.  At a public school, in a different county in Kentucky.  

    Do not despair.

    "There is no difference between us. The only difference is that the folks with money want to stay in power..."--Shirley Sherrod

    by Wide Awake in KY on Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:48:26 AM PDT

  •  Read "Little Town on the Prairie" for an awesome (0+ / 0-)

    end-of-school presentation by (of course) Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not just Laura, but practically all of the school kids had to know a lot to pass, and the best were pretty well educated.
    Now, critical thinking as such took a back seat to memorization and recitation, but they for goodness sake actually took it seriously. Not that I'm nostalgic for getting whupped by a hickory stick or any of that, but actually knowing stuff as opposed to Googling someone's dubious article about stuff, is a good thing. To say nothing of being able to think about stuff and construct a rational, persuasive argument.

  •  Too many distractions for kids; TV, internet , (0+ / 0-)

    mobile phones. And then kids end up bored at school.
    Not exactly a surprise. Who can compete with that?

    Things will get worse but you can't blame teachers.

    Intelligence is way overrated.

  •  How about some basis for comparison? (0+ / 0-)

    By which I mean: How well did the eighth-graders who took it score on this test in 1912?

    For that matter, even eighth-graders were probably a minority of schoolchildren at that time, and few people graduated from high school.  Even fewer went to college.  And despite that attrition, college professors complained about how poorly prepared most incoming freshmen were -- even though most of them had probably not attended public schools.  Pundits denounced the public school system as useless.  Which is why this paragraph is BS:

    Many recent studies have indicated that American education has been lagging those of industrialized countries. The subliminal war on education via austerity and transfer of public dollars to for profit education (vouchers) makes the degeneration of the American education a continued slide to mediocrity.
    The writer needs an editor, by the way: the US is an industrialized country, for example.  I suppose "other industrialized countries" was meant.  Comparative studies of school outcomes are very difficult to do well, but in fact American students are doing quite well, despite general American anti-intellectualism and the war on public schools.  Claims that our students "is" not learning are quite old, generally unfounded.  Claims about declining, degenerating American public education have been bogus ever since I can remember, and articles like this are part of the war on public education.  Just what we don't need.
  •  Well, I did catch (0+ / 0-)

    the spelling word that was misspelled.  And I can spell all of those and also supersede - which is not to say I will type them correctly every time LOL although I do try to catch as I go.

  •  Well, I caught (0+ / 0-)

    the spelling word that was misspelled, and I can spell all the spelling words and also supersede.  Which is not to say I always type them perfectly.  If this is a duplicate, I apologize; my first attempt appears to be lost.

  •  academic standards (0+ / 0-)

    This is consistent with 6th-8th grade achievement tests of the late 1960s, as I recall. It's also consistent with the 6th grade achievement tests my daughter took in the 1990s, but she attended parochial school.

  •  This Article Would Fail 1912 8th-Grade Scrutiny :( (0+ / 0-)

    Good topic Egberto, and good discussion fodder.  But did you make the following errors deliberately, to illustrate your point?  I'm sorry, but if you're going to write about education, you should give the article a least a cursory proof-reading.

    Paragraph 1:  "Many children that passed" should of course read "Many children who passed."  No 1912 8th-grader would get away with that one.

    Paragraph 2:  The word  "in" is missing before "world geography."

    Paragraph 4:  "those of industrialized countries" should read "that of other industrialized countries."

    Below the fold:
     - "the names of some countries is different today"
     - "Most of the questions however apply today as it did then"
     - "there should be no excuse that if students could successfully do the test then they should now." (I eventually figured out what this is meant to mean, but it took a while)

    A 1912 8th-grader would also be very familiar with the use of the hyphen (high-tech; for-profit)  

  •  Expectations of 8th graders were different then (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While the test seems pretty difficult, we have to remember that in 1912 passing 8th grade was considered to be a great achievement since 13 and 14 year olds would be expected to do the work of an adult at that age if not sooner.  For that reason, they packed a lot more information into education up to that grade level since many of those kids had to help support the family and couldn't stay in school any longer.  Many of the questions in the arithmetic section, like amortization, pricing cords of wood and other building supplies, are practical questions that might be used in securing employment or running a farm business.  My dad and his siblings were born between 1912 and 1925 and their education in math was much more practical than the current curriculum.  Nowadays, I don't think math classes address these kinds of calculations at all because we have calculators and computers to do the work for us.  I was very surprised that my neighbor's 4th grader gets to use a calculator in class.  Even though we have the technology, I think we should still be taught how to do the calculations by hand.

  •  augh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ask any high school graduate or university student these questions...I bet a very small percentage can answer them.  so sad

  •  #6 is overly simplified. It fails to indicate w... (0+ / 0-)

    #6 is overly simplified. It fails to indicate whether the interest is to be paid yearly, added to the principle and paid when the loan comes due, or paid at some other interval (When the borrower's crops are sold for instance).

  •  worthless test (0+ / 0-)

    This test, like similar ones, do not, as claimed, expose a lack of education in today's schools.  There are many subject areas that are not covered, such as visual art, literature, physics, chemistry, mechanics, etc., etc.  Bottom line these "tests" compare apples to oranges.

    A student of this time would no know a thing about evolution, or even bacteria and viruses.  A good analysis of these "tests" is available at:

  •  I was a poor math student but did better in (0+ / 0-)

    English and history.  But it's been so long since my school days I'd have to bone up on some of this!

  •  Did no one notice the typo in the spelling test? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure they meant "endeavor".

  •  As a teacher for 48 years, I have seen quite an (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Desert Rose

    evolution in education.  This old test is primarily rote memorization - and some of that is good, however, the emphasis today is on critical thinking skills.  I visit many high schools and colleges to watch student teachers and discuss with them their lesson designs and goals for themselves and their students.  I talk with their mentor teachers about their insights and philosophy of education in today's world. There is practice in problem solving, team work, projects, community service etc.  Hey, here in Detroit - they just had a great STEM competition at Cobo Hall where students built and designed working cars to try to achieve the best MPG.  Some of those cars got almost 2000 mpg - no joke.  The robotics competitions around here are fantastic.  And yes, we also have art, music, drama, dance, spelling, writing, history quiz bowls etc. too.  We also have statewide athletic competitions in every sport imaginable.  Our schools answer every need we can afford.  If some students don't take advantage of all that is offered - I look to their home life - are they loved, supported, fed, clothed, sheltered, encouraged there?  That is the REAL problem for our nation.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 03:39:09 PM PDT

  •  Who cares? (0+ / 0-)

    Not even Faux News.

  •  One would first havw to know... (0+ / 0-)

    ... what "kalsomining" is. And one would be hard put these days to find the Erie Canal.

    One would also have to reach beyond the white view of history to name the "discoverer" of Florida, the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Pacific ocean.

  •  This test is used to criticize modern education (0+ / 0-)

    on many websites. Yet, let's remember that it was truly a different world. It's easy to take this out of context of the times.

    Only 20% of high school age children attended high school in 1910, and fewer than 10% graduated. Today we try to educate everyone. How well we do that is open to debate, but in this country we no longer ignore our disabled or leave 90% of our kids behind. Anytime you try to educate everyone you're going to end with a bell curve that is quite extreme at both ends. This test is for those at the top of the bell curve, because, at the time it was given, most of the students have dropped out way before 8th grade.

    Also, just because a question is on a test and most people can't answer it, doesn't mean it's a worthy question.

    Criticism of  modern education surprises me when it comes from Republican politicians. They picked one the the most ignorant politicians I know to run for Vice-President, and I still think Bush Jr. was a dimwitted sock-puppet controlled by his dad and Chaney. Many conservatives are anti-intellectual - often acting like evolution and climate change are conspiracies of some kind.

    Then there are states and communities where revisionists can be elected to their state or local school board, who try to change history and insert religious tenants into a secular school system.

    Here's just one of the affronts to education committed in Texas:

    Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
    Source: Interesting article, I recommend it.

    It would be better not to know so many things than to know so many things that are not so. - Felix Okaye

    by eclecticguy on Sun Apr 12, 2015 at 06:24:03 PM PDT

  •  Most Adults Would Probably Fail (0+ / 0-)

    This test is too long for me to even attempt at my present age. I have no idea what I would have done long ago.

    We have to remember that very few individuals took this test and we do not know how many passed it when they took it!

  •  Lots of knowledge and comprehension questions. (0+ / 0-)

    Very few analysis or synthesis questions. Very low on the cognition scale.

  •  This is the education we need today (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adriana A

    This is not rote memory as someone suggested. It is basic knowledge of our government, how it works, and who has what power. We have members of Congress today who do not know what powers the President has and I have talked to many adults who cannot name the 3 branches of government. No wonder people are voting less and less. They don't understand what it means or why it matters.

    Geography is critical in understanding both physical and political issues. Many climate deniers don't know about our ice caps and why their melting negatively affects all of us. I took Geography in college thinking it would be an easy class and just a review from grade school. It was one of my hardest classes but it taught me how locations of countries affect climate, population, and political and cultural issues.

    Math is an area most of us struggle with. Can you properly calculate the tip to leave a waitress? Over tip. It is most of what they make. Do you know 10 or 20 percent off is basically nothing and may not even equal the tax on the item. Calculate what your real savings is and then decide if you want or need that item.

    Education is the foundation of our success as a person and as a nation. It broadens your views, allows for understanding different points and different cultural mores and that the U.S. is not always right. It gives you empathy and understanding beyond your small daily world.

    Ignorance is why we have the Tea Party. They know none of the above and cannot think beyond themselves and their own twisted and false ideas of reality. They are easy to fool, easy to get to follow stupidity and hate, and why they vote against their best interests. Republicans are destroying the very programs these mostly poor and ignorant sect rely on and they don't even know it.

    Republicans hate education because they can manipulate stupid people and take away their rights and awareness of reality and truth.

  •  Not fair! (0+ / 0-)

    There wasn't a single computer question on that whole test.

  •  Looks like I aint agoin to high school..... ;( (0+ / 0-)
  •  This Proves That We Are Stupid (0+ / 0-)

    I am so glad that I went to school prior to the introduction of computers, graduating from high school in 1968 and college in 1972.  I didn't need to have to go to a handy dandy calculator when I went to Europe in 1968 in order to figure out the currency exchanges.  Then people started to believe that children could not learn.  I do not know how they got THAT particular idea; but, someone needed to get tenure.  When I was in 1st and 2nd grade children were kept back if they had serious issues.  It made them better students in the long run.  There were summer sessions.  So, yes, I am a bit of a Luddite; however, I believe that believe that a person needs to learn to exercise the brain first before starting to depend on tools (slide-rules, calculators, computers, etc.).

    Julia Ergane, Living the Classical Life in the 21st Century, Know Thyself; Nothing to Excess

    by JuliaErgane on Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 12:23:52 PM PDT

  •  Pass it, Maybe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    I would pass the test, but not "ace" it, like I did in the 70's

  •  8th grade exam (0+ / 0-)

    Remember that 100 years ago most kids did NOT go to college but most high school graduates did.  All in all, I think this needs fact checking, as I've seen something similar before.  

  •  I would wager that 90 % of congress (0+ / 0-)

    could not pass this test. Especially the part on Civil Government.

  •  1912 8th Grade Test (0+ / 0-)

    Ouch!  While I did not take this test, I did review the questions - and, oh my goodness!!  There is NO way I would get a passing grade on this exam.  This is true in spite of the fact that I graduated in the top ten percent of my high school class and Magna Cum Laude from college.  That tells me it is time to "go back to school"!

  •  Test failure! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The first history question:  “Who discovered the following places, – Florida, Pacific Ocean, Miss River, St Lawrence River?”

    I would be willing to bet that only wrong answers would have been marked “right”.  Indeed, the only right answer would be: Nobody knows.

    As in all testing, most folks will demand that the expected answer be accepted as correct.

  •  So effing what??? (0+ / 0-)

    Even today an eighth grader won't pass a test IF he/she HAS NOT BEEN TAUGHT the material that's covered in the test.  

    This is a pointless exercise.  


  •  Its not necissarily the case here (0+ / 0-)

    but in most things getting more and more extreme does not make it better. Why does everybody insist that mediocrity is a synonym for bad?

  •  Teacher got it wrong (0+ / 0-)

    Who discovered the following places. - Florida, Pacific Ocean, Miss River, St Lawrence River?

    Correct Answer: The American natives. I suspect the teacher might have desired a different response. But how, exactly, do you "discover" places where other people are already living?

    The rightful purpose of government is to prevent the strong from subjugating the weak. That's why conservatives oppose good government.

    by MasterOfSparks on Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 03:26:56 PM PDT

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