The Army: Be all that you can’t know

U.S. map shows percentage of failed aptitude tests in each state by applicants between the ages of 17 and 20 between 2004 and 2009, and percent of failed tests nationally by race during same period.

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report by The Education Trust bolsters a growing worry among military and education leaders that the pool of young people qualified for military service will grow too small.

“Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career — and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the AP. “I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America‘s underperforming education system.”

The effect of the low eligibility rate might not be noticeable now — the Department of Defense says it is meeting its recruitment goals — but that could change as the economy improves, said retired Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett.

“If you can’t get the people that you need, there’s a potential for a decline in your readiness,” said Barnett, who is part of the group Mission: Readiness, a coalition of retired military leaders working to bring awareness to the high ineligibility rates.

The report by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. Questions are often basic, such as: “If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?”

The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people: Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.

Educators expressed dismay that so many high school graduates are unable to pass a test of basic skills.

“It’s surprising and shocking that we are still having students who are walking across the stage who really don’t deserve to be and haven’t earned that right,” said Tim Callahan with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, a group that represents more than 80,000 educators.

Kenneth Jackson, 19, of Miami, enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. He said passing the entrance exam is easy for those who paid attention in school, but blamed the education system for why more recruits aren’t able to pass the test.

“The classes need to be tougher because people aren’t learning enough,” Jackson said.

This is the first time that the U.S. Army has released this test data publicly, said Amy Wilkins of The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based children’s advocacy group. The study examined the scores of nearly 350,000 high school graduates, ages 17 to 20, who took the ASVAB exam between 2004 and 2009. About half of the applicants went on to join the Army.

Recruits must score at least a 31 out of 99 on the first stage of the three-hour test to get into the Army. The Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard recruits need higher scores.

Further tests determine what kind of job the recruit can do with questions on mechanical maintenance, accounting, word comprehension, mathematics and science.

The study shows wide disparities in scores among white and minority students, similar to racial gaps on other standardized tests. Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared with 16 percent of whites. The average score for blacks is 38 and for Hispanics is 44, compared to whites’ average score of 55.

Even those passing muster on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, usually aren’t getting scores high enough to snag the best jobs.

“A lot of times, schools have failed to step up and challenge these young people, thinking it didn’t really matter — they’ll straighten up when they get into the military,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust. “The military doesn’t think that way.”

Entrance exams for the U.S. military date to World War I. The test has changed over time as computers and technology became more prevalent, and skills like ability to translate Morse code have fallen by the wayside.

The test was overhauled in 2004, and the study only covers scores from 2004 through 2009. The Education Trust didn’t request examine earlier data to avoid a comparison between two versions of the test, said Christina Theokas, the author of the study. The Army did not immediately respond to requests for further information.

Tom Loveless, an education expert at the Brookings Institution think tank, said the results echo those on other tests. In 2009, 26 percent of seniors performed below the ‘basic’ reading level on the National Assessment of Education Progress.

Other tests, like the SAT, look at students who are going to college.

“A lot of people make the charge that in this era of accountability and standardized testing, that we’ve put too much emphasis on basic skills,” Loveless said. “This study really refutes that. We have a lot of kids that graduate from high school who have not mastered basic skills.”

The study also found disparities across states, with Wyoming having the lowest ineligibility rate, at 13 percent, and Hawaii having the highest, at 38.3 percent.

Retired military leaders say the report’s findings are cause for concern.

“The military is a lot more high-tech than in the past,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman R. Seip. “I don’t care if you’re a soldier Marine carrying a backpack or someone sitting in a research laboratory, the things we expect out of our military members requires a very, very well educated force.”

A Department of Defense report notes the military must recruit about 15 percent of youth, but only one-third are eligible. More high school graduates are going to college than in earlier decades, and about one-fourth are obese, making them medically ineligible.

In 1980, by comparison, just 5 percent of youth were obese.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

10 Responses to "The Army: Be all that you can’t know"

  1. Carl Nemo  December 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    No surprise here. We just had a dust up exchange concerning the water quality in this nation in that fluoride and a host other residual additives that cannot be filtered out by the municpal water systems is damaging the brains fo our children along with now an exponential rise in illnesses, especially Alzheimers, arthritis and a host of otheer maladies among our nations elderly.
    This does not include the effects if illicit and licit drugs that kids now have access too that no doubt has affected their brain chemistry.

    I’m blessed in that I have extremely pure well water provided by an underground aquifer that originates from Mt. St. Helens. I’ve had it tested many times and it rates as extremely pure with only 22 ppm of calcium and 10 parts per million of magnesium which is a good ratio of calcium to magnesium even on a supplemental basis. When people visit my home they constantly ask for evermore glasses of water. In recent years a few of my friends come out to my place and fill five gallon jugs then take them home to be dispensed via a countertop decanter with spigot. No problem and I enjoy the fact that they like the water.

    In fact I can say that I’ve drunk very little fluoridated water in my life maybe that’s why I’m still banging on all cylinders between my ears at least I hope so. Ha!

    Also our national education system is in a state of wreckage. I peruse their schoolbooks and interface with some of them on occasion and it never ceases to amaze me as to how illiterate they are across a broad spectrum of subjects. The NEA, the National Education Association, the large and powerful union that represents teacher’s and ‘book publishing’ interests is in part to blame for this. They’ve lost steerage and experiment too much with trendy educational methodologies. When students are young, the average student best learns by rote; ie., repetitively being guided to perform the material until they demonstrate a grasp of such. I also don’t believe in multiple choice tests. In my day you had to write complete answers to questions and show your work as to how you arrived at such. You either knew the material or you didn’t. There was no way to guess the answers. Also the quality of your answers were graded in terms writing standards and quality along with penmanship skills. No slovenness in delivery or thought was allowed. There were expectations…period!

    A few weeks back I was over at one my referenced friends homes in the city that use my water. There were four teens at the house who are due to graduate this coming June 2011. I asked them if they had tried the water and half of them said they don’t like water. I thought that was interesting. They said they only drink bottled water if they do at all. I then made a joke about my water being that sought once by Ponce de Leon the Spanish explorer that was seeking such in what is now southern Florida and is credited with discovering Florida in the 16th century although I only initially said his name. They all looked blank faced. I then asked them if they knew of him and his explorations. Not a one had heard of him or even acted like anyone had covered the early exploration of North much less South America by the Spanish explorers during their time in the school system. Worse yet, not a one seemed to care or felt any shame they were so ill informed and stupid. I then gave them a short tutorial on Spanish explorations, the said “fountain” etc. They acted like they could care less which caused even more concern on my part. They aren’t even interested in the acquisition of knowledge. They’ve got fine clothing and all the tech ‘bling’ that are now ‘must haves’ for teens nowadays. They surely can ‘text’ like maniacs. None of them have part time jobs and their parents and grandparents give them these gadgets without them having a clue that it takes labor; ie., the sweat or your brow using your back or your brains to receive compensation to be able to buy such toys. This doesn’t bode well for America’s youth as far as I’m concerned. When adversity comes this nation’s way they are going to turn into vicious young adults; ie., packs of pariahs because they no longer have access to the toys provided by doting family members nor the skills to get the level of jobs that can provide all the goodies to which they are accustomed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Ponce_de_Le%C3%B3n

    When I go into some smaller businesses that employ high school kids and recent graduates they can’t add a column of figures even with a hand calculator. I’ve had some in an embarrassed fashion push the calculator my way and say…”Mr. would you do this?”. I’m thinking..well folks on this forum can imagine what too, X-( . I have an internal rage well up within to think that our tax dollars are paying for such non performance. I’ve added the sales slip upside down along with the sales tax in my head and these kids can’t cut the mustard with a calculator!? Ouch!

    I’m the product of the 50’s Catholic school system both grade, high school and on to a Jesuit University then on to the Navy. We learned by damn, or got thunked in the head with an eraser or wacked over the back with a pointer or suffered humialition in front of the class for being dunderheads. We had to defend our positions in English, math and other subjects in front of the class at the old fashioned slate chalkboard. We were expected to “think on our feet”. No laptops, no hand calculators but at best slide rules. I still have all the the slide rules I’ve used in my lifetime and still use them on occasion with one of circular design my favorite. Some of our greatest engineering marvels were ciphered using such a device along with a brain to interpolate and recognize the correct answer. If you don’t know what you are doing you can come up with wrong answers using such a calculator and not realize you’ve screwed up especially when doing conversions of measurement systems.

    This nation’s public school system has failed us as far as I’m concerned. Families with the wherewithal can send their kids to private schools and from there they move on to the better universities and I’d like to say good jobs too, but those are being frittered away too by our traitorous, crimpols with their never-ending ‘free trade’ treaties, H1-B visas etc. So even those youngsters with superior credentials and acumen are facing a grim new paradigm for that which was once an example to the world in terms of our educational system, engineering and scientific feats. I’ve even heard whacked suggestions in articles that its recommended they learn Mandarin Chinese then migrate to China for work. Say what!? So where does that leave the rerferenced dummies in this article…?

    School boards are now compensating superintendants to the tune of $250,000 per annum in my area! Also there’s a coterie of overpaid principals, vice principals etc. Sounds like a carbon copy of our U.S. government in terms of compensation along with substandard performance. There’s constant turf wars, bickering and infighting among members of the various school boards. It’s a nightmare. Meanwhile their product; ie. John and Mary’s education is a “bust”.

    Merry Christmas AmeriKa…! / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

    • logtroll  December 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm

      Well, I only got one word to say, “soylent green”.

      • Carl Nemo  December 22, 2010 at 12:07 am

        Ha…! You may be closer to the truth than you realize logtroll.

        I keep this link on my desktop for instant reference. It’s a world population counter also with fascinating statistics. Click on the link in the lower right hand corner of the page where it says “Go here”. It’s quite sobering and one can imagine scoop loaders used for ‘riot control’.

        With oil in the near future being moonshot pricewise causing the production of animal protein to be prohibitive, ‘planners’ might be forced to recycle the protein found in human remains and it won’t be on a volunteer basis either as in organ donors etc., but mandated by law. Once the ‘animal’ is rendered and then reconstituted into its basic chemical composition these components can be safely used to refeed the masses. Also the seas are headed for a massive die off leaving a vacuum concerning seabased protein too, so again “soylent green” just might become a staple of “future world”. / : |

        http://www.netlingo.com/more/poptick.html

        Carl Nemo **==

        • logtroll  December 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

          Animules are also excellent feedstock for pyrolytic processes that produce liquid fuels. Includes humanimules. There’s a system tacked on to a turkey plant in Missouri now. Everbody knows we need gasoline more than we need food… can’t put food in the car to make it go. Can’t live without my car.

          • Carl Nemo  December 22, 2010 at 12:27 am

            Yeah right and no doubt voodoo candles and lampshades too.

            Wuts you drinkin’ or smokin’ good buddy? / : |

            Carl Nemo **==

    • griff  December 22, 2010 at 1:16 am

      Hey, what the hell do you want for 46.7 billion dollars in education spending? Smart kids? This is America, buddy.

      George Carlin on education.

      RIP George.

      • Carl Nemo  December 22, 2010 at 2:44 am

        Thanks Griff for the link. I’ve watched it before and probably should watch it more often in order to gangster slap myself back to the reality of our paradigm, failed for us, but great for the movers and shakers screwing us over 24/7/365.

        RIP America…!

        Carl Nemo **==

  2. Lillibet  December 22, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    It was planned. That way we would have a worker drone class and a leadership class, just like Plato imagined. Without the elephant on the cave wall, of course. Elephants are scarcer than educated kids. Or, curious kids.

    Whatever happened to those lists that read like the “great books” lists, containing 100 or so books that every high school kid should have read and comprehended by the time they reached college? The books are also the core of the Basic Program at the University of Chicago, and I am a graduate of that 4 year program.

    Whatever happened to learning to think critically? To knowing the Constitution backwards and forwards as taught in civics. I know, civics was dropped in the Reagen Administration, which explains so much about the Radical Rabid Right. How about learning to analyze a symphony or an opera, not just musically, but also in terms of what was going on politically? Try talking with a HS grad about the relative importance of the Magic Flute to various governmental changes that came in around that time in the world?

    I resent having to filter the water I drink. I never, ever drink the swill that comes from the tap. I also take supplements to counteract the decades of fluoridation that gave me osteoporosis, and a total of over 30 fractures in the past ten years. I am tired of hearing that boron, aluminum and other junk is falling from the skies upon our water supplies, forests and farmland. It is toxic to eat, drink or live in 21st Century America.

    And yet, I read, analyze and think. I force my friends to do the same, if only to humor me. I refuse to be another idiot in the village. Always have, always will. I knew my school was designed to turn out idiots, and supplemented my school learning with independent reading and by auditing college courses as I was blessed to live in a city with several universities where college attendance wasn’t too closely checked.

    George Carlin was right. So was Charlotte Iserbyte, whose work on the subject can be found at: http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/

    • Carl Nemo  December 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks Lillibet for sharing your views on this grave situation. I don’t see it turning around and if anything our nation is headed for crisis of monumental proportions.

      Having read your contributions in the past I always sensed you were a scholar. I’m also glad to find others as yourself that concur…”it’s the water” in addition to a failed educational system.

      Merry Christmas 2010 to you and yours… : )

      Carl Nemo **==

Comments are closed.