According to NBC, a new survey has found that most U.S. citizens are unable to answer the multiple-choice questions on the U.S. citizenship test. The poll — administered by Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in conjunction with research firm Lincoln Park Strategies — used a test modeled after one given to immigrants when applying for naturalization.
The findings of the survey showed that out of the 1,000 Americans polled, only 36 percent of them passed the test — with generations under the age of 45 failing more frequently than those aged 65 and older. Just 19 percent of participants under the age of 45 passed the test, while 74 percent of those over the age of 65 received a passing score.
The test included questions on important figures in U.S. history, the branches of Congress and their functions, which states made up the 13 original colonies, and when the Constitution was written, in addition to many others. More than half of respondents were unable to correctly identify the countries that the U.S. fought against during World War II, and only 24 percent knew what Benjamin Franklin was actually known for.
President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Arthur Levine, commented on the results of the survey.
“With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential. Unfortunately, this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test.”
He added that knowledge about the history of the U.S. is “fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today” and that understanding the past can help “make sense of a chaotic present, and an inchoate future.”
“The promise of providing a common bond among Americans in an era in which our divisions are profound and our differences threaten to overshadow our commonalities.”
Alana von Voigt, a history teacher at Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, also spoke about the “very disheartening” results of the poll, reports NBC.
“By continuing to teach our students about U.S. history and government, we are continuing to build upon their foundation, just as the Founding Fathers built for us. As teachers, we can show our students how to be leaders, and inspire them to be the inspiration for others. As the saying goes, history repeats itself.”
The foundation also reported that, ironically enough, 40 percent of participants responded that they liked history and that it was one of their favorite subjects in school. The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation plans to use the results of the study to implement an educational initiative to promote the teaching of history in schools — and discover new ways to make it more effective.