A concerning fact to ponder over President’s Day weekend: Only 45 percent of Utah adults can earn a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test.
But amazingly, that still is one of the best scores among the states.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation released those findings on Friday, based on a poll of 41,000 adults nationwide.
Results show that “Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Princton, N.J.-based foundation that supports leadership development through education.
The foundation said only 5 percent of Utahns polled earned a letter grade of A for scoring between 90 and 100; 10 percent earned a B for scores of 80-89; 17 percent earned a C for 70-79; and 13 percent gained a D for 60-69.
And 55 percent failed with scores below 59 out of 100.
Still, that put Utah in a five-way tie — with Nebraska, Delaware, Minnesota and North Dakota — for the sixth-best passage rate among the states.
Only in one state, Vermont, did a majority of respondents pass the test, 53 percent. Other top scorers were Wyoming (49 percent passed); South Dakota (48 percent); and Montana (47 percent).
The state with the worst score was Louisiana, where only 27 percent passed, followed by Kentucky (29 percent) and Arkansas (30 percent).
“American history education is not working, as students are asked to memorize dates, events and leaders, which the poll results show are not retained in adulthood,” Levine said. “This is an issue of how we teach American history.”
He adds that fundamental changes are needed in how history “is taught and learned to make it relevant to our students’ lives, captivating and inclusive to all Americans.”
The foundation is launching an initiative to provide high school students with an interactive digital platform aiming to make history more interesting — especially to those who may not see the importance history plays to the here and now. It will also offer digital games, videos and graphic novels.