The Associated Press reports that 23 percent of recent high school graduates
nationwide can’t pass the Army’s entrance exam. Figures varied
widely by state. In Colorado, for example, the figure was less than 20
percent while Hawaii had an ineligibility rate of almost 40 percent. The
exam consists of basic math, science and reading questions. To make matters
even worse, the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard all require a
higher passing score than the Army does.
The Education Trust, a children’s advocacy group, says that the
study examined scores of 350,000 high school graduates, ages 17 through
20, who took the Army entrance test between 2004 and 2009. This is the
first time the Army has publicly released this test data.
Equally alarming is the fact that 75 percent of applicants, 17 to 24 years
of age, don’t even qualify to take the test because of physical
unfitness, a criminal record, or failure to graduate from high school.
As one might expect, both educators and the Defense Department expressed
concern that our nation’s high schools are turning out graduates
who can’t pass such a relatively easy test of basic skills. And
while current recruitment goals are being met, there is a potential for
a decline in our military readiness, according to the group Mission: Readiness,
a coalition of retired military leaders.
Irrespective of one’s views on the political issue of whether or
not the U.S. needs a large military presence in today’s world, it
is nevertheless a sad commentary on our education system that it apparently
requires less knowledge to graduate from high school than it does to get
into the Army. If this is true, as it appears to be, what kind of civilian
labor force can we reasonably expect?
As a first step in attempting to solve the problems, shouldn’t we
all demand higher standards from our school boards, school administrators
and teachers? Or should the Army just make its entrance exam easier? Just
a perverse thought.