Survey: Young Americans Are Among the Least Literate In the World. What?

BreakingModern – According to researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Americans aged 18 to 35 rate far below other industrialized nations in basic skills such as literacy, math and problem solving.

ETS recently analyzed the results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies test, designed to measure the job skills of adults in more than 20 countries. The results shocked survey participants, researchers said.

Despite their collective status as the most-educated generation in history, Americans 18-25, the so-called Millennial generation, ranked number 15 of 22 countries in literacy. Only Millennials in Spain and Italy had lower scores. The study shows a general downward trend, as well. The entire Millenial group scored lower in literacy and numeracy areas than adults tested in previous years, according to the ETS report.

“To put it bluntly, we no longer share the growth and prosperity of the nation the way we did in the decades between 1940 and 1980,” researchers wrote.

According to the report:

  • American young adults ranked last in numeracy, along with Italy and Spain.
  • When it came to problem solving in technology-rich environments, U.S. Millennials also ranked last, along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland and Poland.
  • Top scoring American Millennials (those at the 90th percentile) scored lower than top-scoring Millennials in 15 of 22 countries, and only scored higher than their peers in Spain.
  • American Millennials with a bachelor’s degree scored higher in numeracy than their counterparts in only two countries: Poland and Spain.
  • America’s best-educated Millennials — those with a masters or research degree — only scored higher than their peers in Ireland, Poland and Spain.

I took the demo test. (It only worked in Firefox for me.) Tasks included scanning charts for inconsistent data, highlighting information in a research report to answer a sample question and following directions to fill out a phony return form.

When I was done, the browser automatically closed without warning. I had hoped to see my personal score compared to the international averages, but it didn’t return my results.

The Educational Testing Service is a private not-for-profit company that develops and administers more than 50 million achievement and admissions tests annually.

Take this test for yourself. Hopefully your browser won’t crash.

For BMod, I’m .

Image credit: Millennials by ITU Pictures via Flickr


Featured/Header Image: Sailors Take Exam by Official U.S. Navy Page via Flickr

Helen Anne Travis

Author: Helen Anne Travis

Helen Anne Travis covers travel and lifestyle at BreakingModern. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Anne.

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