Friday, October 5, 2007

Civic Literacy

A report suggests that students at elite universities are either dumb or not getting their money's worth, at least when it comes to the ability to answer basic civics questions accurately. The questions focus on America's history and institutions, the kind of stuff we ask in surveys to discover what people know, their basic "civics" or "textbook" knowledge.

Who sucked? Yale, Duke, and Cornell.

Who kicked ass? Eastern Conn. State University, Marian College in Wisconsin and Murray State in Kentucky.

The appendix to this study is damned confusing. What the hell is "value added" and why are the numbers lower for the supposedly bad performers? It's not explained very well and like a lot of pr releases, the quality is -- ahem -- missing. And there is probably some political axe to grind her, one I don't have the time or energy to chase down. And there is the question of how well those Yale, et al., kids might do compared to those Marian College grads in synthisizing a lot of information and composing arguments.

In other words, it's unclear what we're measuring here other than ability to answer straightforward factual questions. Still, you'd think those Ivy guys and gals would do better. Wassup with that?

Take the quiz yourself if you want to be humbled.

Oh, and my school, The University of Georgia, scored #32. Beat out again by the University of Florida, at #22.

At least we beat Duke.

No comments: