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 Education Trust examined the scores of nearly 350,000 high school graduates, ages 17 to 20, who took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, between 2004 and 2009. They 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 report bolsters a growing worry among military and education leaders that the pool of young people qualified for military service will grow too small. 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 already can’t take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.
“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.”
— David Grant