Nearly 25% fail military entrance exam

The military is always looking for a few good men and women to volunteer for service. It appears however, that their entrance exam, with difficult questions like: “If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?” might need yet another dumbing down. According to this story (from the AP), almost 25% of applicants fail the exam.

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.”

So now we have another “national security burden” – first from kids who are too fat (more here) and now from kids who are too stupid. Sounds like we need to pour more money into the education system black hole. That’s how it works, right? If something fails, it means we aren’t spending enough on it.

This doesn’t bode well for the military services which have become more sophisticated with high-tech weaponry. Many who can pass the basic entrance exam are not qualified for advanced training.

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.

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.

This is an indictment of the education system as a whole. These are supposed to be high school graduates taking the exam. If 25% cannot even get a third of the questions right on a basic skills exam, we have a big problem.

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