Only 41 percent of Idahoans can pass citizenship test, study says
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IDAHO FALLS – Many people take a test as part of the process to become a U.S. citizen, but a new survey shows that when the average, everyday American takes the test, very few can actually pass it.
A report from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship indicates only 41 percent of Idaho residents earned a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test.
Idaho ranks 25th nationally, with only two percent who can pass the 20-question survey with an A. Eight percent received a B, 17 percent a C, and 14 percent a D.
Neighboring Utah, Wyoming and Montana all rank in the top 10 for best performance.
Wyoming ranks No. 2 nationally behind Vermont, where a 53 percent majority could pass the test with a D or higher. Fifty percent of Wyoming’s population could pass the test, but only seven percent could pass with an A. Rounding out the top 5 are South Dakota, Montana, and Virginia.
The five lowest-performing states were Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana at the bottom of the list.
The study also shows only 27 percent of those under the age of 45 nationally were able to demonstrate a basic understanding of American history. Nationally, only four in 10 Americans passed the exam.
The survey “demonstrates that a waning knowledge of American history may be one of the greatest educational challenges facing the U.S.,” according to Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine.
“Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” Levine said in a news release. “Based on our research, this is not an issue of whether high school history teachers are adequately prepared or whether kids study American history in school. The answer to both questions is yes. This is an issue of how we teach American history.”
The Foundation is now launching a major national initiative to transform how American history is learned by providing high school students with an interactive digital platform intended to make American history more interesting and appreciated by all learners, particularly those who do not see the importance history plays in the now and tomorrow.
Relying on the latest developments in cognitive learning, the Woodrow Wilson American History Initiative will offer experiential learning opportunities such as digital games, videos, and graphic novels. Building on the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s successful HistoryQuest Fellowship professional development program for social students and civics teachers, the Initiative will also provide resources and learning opportunities for K–12 history teachers to improve their instructional practice.
The results from each state along with the national survey conducted last fall involved 41,000 interviews among adults nationwide.
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