When It Comes to American History Knowledge, Only Four in 10 Nationally Demonstrate the Basics, According to New Woodrow Wilson Foundation Survey

Just one in three Georgians, or 33 percent, earned a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test. The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only in Vermont could a majority (53 percent) pass; in the lowest performing state, only 27 percent were able to pass.

Even more disturbing, 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.

Three percent of Georgians scored an A; 8 percent received a B; 11 percent a C; and 12 percent a D on the 20-question survey.

“Unfortunately, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has validated what studies have shown for a century: Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” WW Foundation President Arthur Levine said.

“American history education is not working, as students are asked to memorize dates, events, and leaders, which the poll results shows are not retained in adulthood,” Levine said. “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.

Now it is too often made boring and robbed of its capacity to make sense of a chaotic present and inchoate future. Instead, knowledge of American history must serve as an anchor in a time when change assails us, a laboratory for studying the changes that are occurring and a vehicle for establishing a common bond when social divisions are deep. This requires a fundamental change in how American history is taught and learned to make it relevant to our students lives, captivating, and inclusive to all Americans.”

How the States Fared

The top states after Vermont are Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Virginia.

The five lowest performing states are: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana at the bottom of the list. Georgia ranked sixth worst in the nation, just ahead of Mississippi.

Complete state-by-state results can be found at the end of this release.

Lincoln Park Strategies conducted the poll for the Foundation. It involved 41,000 interviews among adults nationwide. The margin of error is approximately ±1.0 percent.

State-by-State Grades

February 2019

State A (90-100) B (80-89) C (70-79) D (60-69) F (59 or less)
Vermont 4% 13% 23% 13% 47%  
Wyoming 7% 13% 15% 15% 51%  
South Dakota 1% 15% 17% 15% 52%  
Montana 3% 13% 15% 16% 53%  
Virginia 5% 11% 14% 16% 54%  
Nebraska 5% 10% 11% 20% 55%  
Delaware 6% 9% 17% 14% 55%  
Minnesota 2% 8% 17% 18% 55%  
North Dakota 1% 8% 15% 21% 55%  
Utah 5% 10% 17% 13% 55%  
Maine 2% 10% 18% 14% 56%  
Kansas 2% 11% 12% 18% 56%  
Iowa 4% 12% 13% 14% 57%  
New Hampshire 5% 8% 13% 17% 57%  
Illinois 3% 9% 16% 15% 57%  
Arizona 2% 8% 17% 16% 58%  
Connecticut 3% 11% 14% 15% 58%  
DC 7% 12% 15% 9% 58%  
Massachusetts 3% 10% 14% 14% 58%  
Rhode Island 4% 10% 13% 16% 58%  
Wisconsin 3% 10% 14% 15% 58%  
New Jersey 3% 11% 14% 14% 58%  
Maryland 4% 10% 13% 14% 59%  
Ohio 4% 9% 14% 15% 59%  
Idaho 2% 9% 17% 14% 59%  
Nevada 2% 11% 12% 16% 59%  
Colorado 2% 10% 14% 15% 59%  
Oregon 3% 11% 13% 14% 60%  
Pennsylvania 4% 9% 12% 15% 60%  
Washington 3% 9% 15% 13% 60%  
California 4% 8% 13% 15% 60%  
New York 4% 11% 11% 13% 60%  
Hawaii 3% 7% 14% 16% 60%  
Missouri 3% 8% 14% 15% 61%  
North Carolina 4% 8% 13% 14% 61%  
Florida 2% 7% 14% 15% 62%  
Tennessee 3% 10% 12% 13% 62%  
New Mexico 1% 12% 11% 14% 63%  
Oklahoma 4% 7% 13% 14% 63%  
Texas 3% 7% 12% 15% 63%  
Indiana 3% 8% 12% 14% 64%  
Michigan 2% 7% 14% 13% 64%  
Alaska 3% 7% 10% 15% 65%  
South Carolina 3% 7% 10% 14% 66%  
West Virginia 5% 5% 5% 19% 66%  
Georgia 3% 8% 11% 12% 67%  
Mississippi 2% 7% 10% 13% 69%  
Alabama 2% 7% 10% 12% 69%  
Arkansas 3% 5% 10% 12% 70%  
Kentucky 1% 6% 11% 11% 71%  
Louisiana 4% 6% 9% 9% 73%  

Information direct from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here