I'd Like to See the Test....
From the Newspaper of Record:
The Department of Education translates student scores on the test, known as
the National Assessment of Educational Progress, into three achievement
levels: advanced, proficient and basic. On the economics test, 42 percent of
12th graders performed at or above the proficient level, and 79 percent
performed at or above the basic level. An economics course is required for
graduation in only about one-third of the states. 'The numbers here are
pretty good, really,' said Darvin M. Winick, the chairman of the bipartisan
body set up by Congress to oversee the test. 'Given the number of students
who finish high school with a limited vocabulary, not reading well and weak
in math, the results may be as good or better than we should expect.' In
contrast, only 13 percent of 12th grade students performed at or above
proficient, and only 47 percent performed at or above the basic level on the
national assessment test in history that was administered last year. On a
similar test in science in 2005, only 54 percent of 12th grade students
performed at or above the basic level, and just 18 percent at or above
The full report is here.
The questions are not bad, I have to admit. Some samples:
Question 1: Which of the following is a policy tool of the Federal Reserve?
A. Raising or lowering income taxes
B. Increasing or decreasing unemployment benefits
C. Buying or selling government securities
D. Increasing or decreasing government spending
Question 3: Two countries are currently trading with each other. The countries agree to remove all trade restrictions on products traded between them. Which of the following is most likely to decrease?
A. The variety of goods available
B. The prices of imported goods
C. The quality of goods available
D. The amount of imported goods
Question 4: Which of the following has been most important in reducing poverty over time?
B. Economic growth
C. International trade
D. Government regulations
Question 5: What happens to most of the money deposited in checking accounts at a
A. It is used to pay the bank’s expenses.
B. It is loaned to other bank customers.
C. It is kept in the bank’s vault until depositors withdraw the funds.
D. It is paid to owners of the bank as return on their investment.
Now, *I* think the answers are: 1. C 3. B 4. B 5. B
Remarkably, the test makers agree.
Only about a fifth of the students taking the test got #1 correct. The others were
all slightly over 1/2 putting the correct answer.
I tried to think how Lou Dobbs would do on this test. Not very well, was my conclusion. But then he doesn't pretend to know anything about economics.
Then I tried to think how many Duke students would get #1 correct. Less than half, is my guess. I wonder if Duke students watch Lou Dobbs? Lord, I hope not.
(nod to KL, who knows economics, but refuses to believe it)