Are You Smarter Than a 12th Grader?

Only 12 percent of high school seniors "proficient" in history.

June 14, 2011, 4:52 PM

June 14, 2011— -- Only 12 percent of American 12th graders know enough history to score "proficient" in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Only 17 percent of eighth graders and 20 percent of fourth graders achieved similar levels of grade-appropriate knowledge.

The good news is that all three groups did fare better, on average, than those who took the test in 1994, according to the Nation's Report Card released today.

The most significant gain was for the bottom 10th percentile of fourth graders, with a 22-point increase when compared with student scores from 1994.

The assessment tested representative samples of more than 7,000 fourth graders, 11,000 eighth graders, and 12,000 12th graders.

The NAEP has periodically conducted similar education assessments in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geographyand other subjects since 1969.

Did you scoff at the seemingly low scores? Well, test your knowledge with the sample questions below.

Fourth Grade Sample Questions

1. What are the three most important reasons that the United States fought in the First World War on the side of France and Great Britain?

2. Which area became part of the United States last?

A) HawaiiB) TexasC) OregonD) Alaska

3. The document that contains the basic rules used to run the United States government is:

A) the Declaration of Independence B) the Magna Carta C) the Mayflower Compact D) the Constitution

4. Sojourner Truth said these words in 1852: "I hear talk about the Constitution and rights of man. I come up and I takes hold of this Constitution. It looks might big. And I feels for my rights, but they not there." What did Sojourner Truth want to communicate with her words?

A) Poor people did not know what was written in the Constitution B) African-Americans were not allowed to read the Constitution C) The Constitution did not talk about the rights of African-Americans D) The Constitution needed to talk about the rights of Native Americans

Eighth Grade Sample Questions

1. Who was Thomas Jefferson and why was he important?

Refer to the passage below for questions 2 and 3:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government. —1776

2. The quotation is from the:

A) Articles of ConfederationB) ConstitutionC) Declaration of IndependenceD) Missouri Compromise

3. The primary author of the document was:

A) George WashingtonB) John MarshallC) Robert E. LeeD) Thomas Jefferson

4. What were the three main countries that made up the Axis powers in World War II?

A) Germany, Russia and JapanB) Italy, Japan and RussiaC) Germany, Japan and ItalyD) Germany, Japan and Great Britain

12th Grade Sample Questions

1. A consequence of Prohibition was

A) the failure of the Republicans in the 1928 presidential election B) the growth of organized crime C) the turning of public attention to pressing international issues D) widespread popular support for further moral reform

2. North Korea was helped by this ally during the Korean War:

A) JapanB) The PhilippinesC) Hong KongD) China

3. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's goal in supporting the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 was to

A) Encourage Japanese Americans to relocate voluntarily B) Use foreign investment as a way of stimulating the American economy C) Maintain an isolationist stance by providing only limited aid to both sides of the European conflict D) Assist Britain's war effort without violating United States neutrality laws

4. Before the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese broke free from this colonizer:

A) BritainB) ChinaC) FranceD) Russia

5. What main factors contributed to the growth of suburbs?

A) Increases in automobile ownership B) The building of a modern highway system C) Tax deductions for mortgage interest D) All of the above

6. In the 1970's the United States economy was directly affected by

A) a sharp increase in the price of oil B) an increase in the cost of solar energy C) an overall decline in international trade D) a rapid decline in prices of consumer goods

7. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact are best described as two

A) Organizations founded by the European Economic Community to promote trade between Europe and the United States B) Treaties negotiated between the allies and the Central Powers at Versailles after the First World War C)Bodies established by the United Nations to promote peace within multiethnic European countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia D) Military organizations made up, respectively, of the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies during the Cold War

Answer Key

Fourth Grader Questions:

1. The U.S. entered World War 1 because of these three main reasons: German attacks on American ships threatened safety and trade, France and Britain were democracies and the U.S. believed it should help them and the U.S. had a closer historical relationship with France and Britain than with Germany.

2. A

3. D

4. C

8th Grader Questions:1. Thomas Jefferson was the third U.S. president and was the main author of the Declaration of Independence.

2. C

3. D

4. C

12th Grader Questions:1. B

2. D

3. D

4. C

5. D

6. A

7. D

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