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Majority of America's High School Seniors Economically Literate

From the Opinion Journal comes this very encouraging news: 79% of America's twelfth graders passed the National Assessment of Educational Progress' (NAEP) economics literacy test.

Pop quiz. Which has been most important in reducing poverty over time: a) taxes, b) economic growth, c) international trade, or d) government regulation?

We know what our readers would say. But lest you think American young people are slouching toward serfdom, you'll be pleased to know that 53% of U.S. high school seniors also answered "b." The latest version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) asked this question, among others on economics, and the results will not please members of the Socialist International, or for that matter the Senate Finance Committee.

Since its founding in 1969, the NAEP has become something of an annual exercise in American educational masochism. Last year, only 54% of students met NAEP's "basic" standard--the equivalent of a passing grade--on the science test. The previous year tested history; a mere 47% passed. But when knowledge of economics was tested this year, well, let's just say the supply curve shifted. NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.

Impressive, indeed, especially since, and I'm guessing here, that the majority of the students assessed were public school kids. This means that the kids in public schools are absorbing free market economic principles even though they are being educated in a educational system that is socialistic in its structure.

Update: If the Democratic presidential nominees took this same test, they wouldn't do nearly as well. Check out Jim Addison's piece from earlier today in which he addresses the Democrats answers to questions about economics. They'll leave you scratching your head.


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Comments (15)

So you are saying that the ... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

So you are saying that the average high school graduate is smarter than Barney?

I'm going to go out on a li... (Below threshold)
Billll Author Profile Page:

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and guess that the reason HS student literacy is so much higher in Econ than in math, history, or geography, is because the schools don't teach economics.

So when do all the politici... (Below threshold)
marc:

So when do all the politicians return to High School so they can catch up with the mental capacity and sophistication of an 18 year old?

So you are saying that ... (Below threshold)
Jo:

So you are saying that the average high school graduate is smarter than Barney?

Apparently so. Smarter than Barney and all his cohorts in here. Whew. That's a relief.

"because the schools don't ... (Below threshold)
yo:

"because the schools don't teach economics"

It's funny ... cuz it's true.

Best line of the day.

Just like to note that if "... (Below threshold)
jim:

Just like to note that if "(a) Taxes" was phrased as "tax cuts", the correct answer would still be the same - "(b) economic growth".

That's because, as we can see by the current example, the US poverty rate has continued every single year during the Bush tax cuts.

The more interesting nuance to (b) is, **what kind** of economic growth? Because as we can clearly see if we look at the facts, the current form of US economic growth has not helped the poor, it has hurt them worse.

So, yes, tax cuts definitely don't help poverty. The students are right. Hope you guys realize this too.

OTOH, if the NEAP folks are... (Below threshold)

OTOH, if the NEAP folks are recent public school grads, they may simply have added the figures incorrectly . . .

~~~~~~~~~

Poverty is a poor attempt to hijack the thread. The poverty rate has stayed within a fairly narrow range since WWII, despite nearly $4 trillion federal taxpayer dollars having been tossed at it since then. Of course, one reason it remains so steady is that we refuse to count the in-kind benefits - Food Stamps, free school lunches, Medicaid, etc. - as income.

Now, working folks have to report any in-kind benefits they receive (except health and life insurance, because those benefits are tax-favored) such as company cars, club memberships, etc. on their income taxes. Go figure.

So we have a situation where our average "poor" single mother owns a car and two or more televisions, has cable if available in her area, has air conditioning, free medical care for her kids, and plenty to eat for her and her family. In most countries in this world, they call a person with such a situation "rich."

$4 tril spent on the War on... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

$4 tril spent on the War on Poverty, to no avail...

Time to call it a hopeless quagmire, and cut off the funding.

That's because, as we ca... (Below threshold)
gattsuru:

That's because, as we can see by the current example, the US poverty rate has continued every single year during the Bush tax cuts.

Don't think that's quite accurate. Poverty is a widely changing and abstract value that really doesn't mean much these days, if it every did -- I mean, honestly, they even have the same poverty dollar values for Chicago as Dayton, despite the former having nearly twice the cost of living. The average family in poverty has a car, has a home, has air conditioning in their home, has a computer and internet. It's a pretty significant difference from thirty years ago. That's no proof that poverty in real terms has gone down, but it makes the opposite kinda questionable.

This is deeply sad. I've al... (Below threshold)

This is deeply sad. I've always liked business myself. Many young people also have a poor grasp of history as well. But many young people have proven skills at drinking or being a consumer of goods, with only the consumption of goods a good thing for retailers like myself.

So you are saying ... (Below threshold)
So you are saying that the average high school graduate is smarter than Barney?

Caused me to spit Pepsi onto my screen.

$4 tril spent on t... (Below threshold)
$4 tril spent on the War on Poverty, to no avail...

Time to call it a hopeless quagmire, and cut off the funding.

Heh. That's the lowest number I've ever heard for the war on poverty. Just a year or so ago, George Will quoted 6.3 trillion dollars in one of his columns. And that's only since LBJ's Great Society

Recently el Rushbo read something on the air that put the number at 10 trillion.

Poverty is a poor attemp... (Below threshold)
jim:

Poverty is a poor attempt to hijack the thread.

Well, as the subject of the whole article is whether or not the students correctly diagnosed the roots of "poverty", I am of course inclined to disagree.

Poverty is a widely chan... (Below threshold)
jim:

Poverty is a widely changing and abstract value that really doesn't mean much these days,

I certainly agree that some of the particulars of poverty may be different now. And there certainly are a bunch of different factors that come into measuring it.

But there has to be some way to measure it, even if it can be vague or slippery; and by this measure the Bush administration has done far worse for the poor than the Clinton administration.

We have a society where 99%... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

We have a society where 99% of households have at least one television. When you look at census data for households that are below the poverty line and look at the personal goods and assets they possess, it really is astonishing.

Using the word "poverty" for lower income households in the United States is really ridiculous.




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