Test Finds U.S. Students Slacking in the Geography Department

VIDEO: Only 12 percent of U.S. high school students are proficient in the subject.

Geography is more than just maps -- and the majority of U.S. students need to spend more time learning that.

That was made clear as the National Assessment of Education Progress today released the results of its Nation's Report Card: Geography 2010. According the the NAEP, about 30 percent of U.S. students scored at or above the "proficient" level in 2010.

"Geography is a rich and varied discipline that, now more than ever, is vital to understanding the connections between our global economy, environment and diverse cultures," said David P. Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP.

Representative samples of nearly 7,000 fourth graders, 9,500 eighth graders and 10,000 12th graders were tested. While fourth graders showed improvement since 2001 -- the last time the test was administered -- eighth graders' scores remained flat, and 12th graders showed a decline from 1994.

The good news: Scores for the lowest-performing students in grade 8 increased and test performance improved for black and Hispanic students in grades 4 and 8.

Think you could do better than these students? Test your geography knowledge with these sample questions.

Grade 4

Which of the following is most likely to be located in a major city rather than in a small town?

A. An international airport

B. A movie theater

C. A public library

D. A playground

Grade 4

Which can help prevent soil erosion?

A. Burning underbrush

B. Grazing sheep

C. Building roads

D. Planting trees

Grade 4

U.S. state capitals are often located near the center of the state because:

A. Most businesses are located near the center of the state

B. Most states are flatter near the center and more mountainous near the borders

C. The climate is usually milder near the center of the state

D. It is easier for people from around the state to reach a central location

Grade 4

The most common use of land in the Great Plains region of the United States is for

A. Fishing

B. Farming

C. Mining

D. Recreation

Grade 8

Which of the following is most likely to lead to a sense of cultural unity among people?

A. A diverse landscape

B. A common language

C. Urban migration

D. Economic development

Grade 8

Which contributed most to the westward expansion of settlements in the United States during the late 1800's?

A. Shipbuilding

B. Railroad building

C. Highway construction

D. Canal construction

Grade 8

The advance in communication that enabled ideas to spread around the world in a matter of seconds was the introduction of

A. Zip codes and high-speed sorting machines by postal services

B. Satellites by telecommunications networks

C. Area codes by telephone companies

D. High-resolution signals by television broadcasters

Grade 12

Worldwide, the greatest number of people who emigrate from one country to another today do so because they

A. Believe that moving will help them economically

B. Believe that moving will give them greater religious freedom

C. Like the climate better in their new country

D. Have been expelled from their native countries

Grade 12

In East Africa the process of desertification causes greater hardship for women than for men mostly because

A. Women consume more water than do men

B. Women are primarily responsible for collecting the fuelwood and water for their families

C. In times of drought family size usually increases

D. There are proportionately more women than men in this area

Grade 12

Which statement is true about the economies of most developing countries?

A. Their exports are often limited to a few agricultural products or raw materials.

B. They produce a wide variety of high-technology goods.

C. Their imports are often limited to manufactured goods.

D. Their manufacturing sectors are usually well developed.

Grade 12

The development of a megalopolis is primarily an example of

A. Gentrification

B. Urbanization

C. Deforestation

D. Regional planning

Grade 12

How were the Great Lakes formed?

A. Glaciation

B. Volcanic activity

C. Soil deposition

D. Erosion

The Answers

1. A

2. D

3. D

4. B

5. B

6. B

7. B

8. A

9. B

10. A

11. B

12. A

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