Common Core is a non-profit located in Washington, D.C. that wants every student to graduate high school with a broader understanding of the world.

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We’re going to try something a little different today. We want as many of our readers as possible to take a few minutes to take this test. After you’re done, report your score back to us in the comments section. This isn’t a competition to see who gets the highest score, so don’t be embarrassed if you don’t score very well. This test was administered to a large sample of American 17-year-olds, and the results, according to this report, weren’t too pretty. The results of the test tell a sad story about the state of cultural fluency in today’s youth. In fact, it looks to us as though the results are understated because respondents had a pretty good shot at guessing the correct answer due to the multiple choice format. This test and the report on the results were both put together by Common Core, a non-profit organization that wants every student to graduate high school with “an understanding of culture, the arts, history, literature, civics, and language.”

What’s Wrong Here?

Senator Joseph McCarthy investigated people who protested the war in Vietnam, better known as the Second World War. Fortunately, that war was over before Christopher Columbus sailed to America; otherwise, we might have never experienced the Renaissance.

Apparently, not too much according to many of the nation’s 17-year-olds. With such a poor understanding of history, our youth have little hope of becoming well prepared citizens. Our education system has overwhelmingly moved towards a focus on reading and math, while overlooking many of the other components of a strong liberal arts education. Common Core thinks that an education with more breadth won’t only help improve cultural literacy, but will also have the effect of improving core skills as students’ minds are opened to critical, creative thinking.

I Got an A on the Test, Give Me a Job

There’s a lot more that we could tell you about this Washington, DC based organization; however, Common Core’s website does a fine job of telling their story. The site is a little tough to read with all of the different blocks of text, but the design is fresh and the content is great. Common Core needs help promoting a liberal arts education in schools. They provide quality education standards, programs, and curricula, as well as data and reports on the state of education. Since Common Core is just launching, they need someone who can do it all – from research to organizing events, from writing proposals and reports to analyzing public policy. Unfortunately, Common Core doesn’t list this job on their own site, but it can be found here on Idealist. They would like to hear from all applicants by April 9th, so you should get your resume, cover letter, writing sample, and references to Lynne Munson at as soon as possible.

Links to Help You Begin Your Research

Please don’t be afraid to share your results on the test. We genuinely want to know how different our readers are from the average 17-year-old.

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10 responses to “Common Core”

  1. Jack says:

    Whew!- The good news is I got 100. The bad news is I’m almost sixty and the product of the educational system that existed half a century ago- mean Latin teachers and lots of memorization.

  2. I got one wrong, but had to guess on a couple.

  3. annie says:

    sorry I got 4 wrong and guessed on another.

  4. Amy Gordon says:

    6 wrong… but I am still in school

  5. Nicole says:

    Freshman in college, got one wrong.

  6. Stephanie O says:

    I got 30 right, just barely an A everyone I got wrong was one I had to guess on, but the rest seemed easy

  7. C Spencer says:

    I’m a junior in college with a history major. But none of my classes have been about this stuff. It’s only topics I know from high school- university has been about Byzantines and Gender History etc etc

    I got a 30/33- an ‘A’..
    3 were just completely unknown to me, all literary. Don’t know a thing about Ellison’s book, Dicken’s setting for a Tale of Two Cities, or To Kill a Mockingbird.

    But I am a junior in college, a history major. To be fair though, I didn’t learn ANY of the stuff above in college- that’s all been byzantine history or gender history or other indepth stuff, and I havent done any american history.
    I could feel myself pulling these facts from the readings I did in 8th grade with one teacher, and 11th grade with another.

  8. C Spencer says:

    ouch. I wrote what I was going to say as I was taking the quiz, then having scrolled downwards didnt see it and wrote it out again.. that’s why you have an enormously long comment with tons of repetition… o.o

  9. P Lake says:

    I knew everything except the biblical reference. I graduated with a degree in history a few years ago. A professor of mine gave a similar test at the start of a methodology course at my college and the results were very poor. There is something wrong with social science education in our schools. This is purely anectdoctal, but some of the worst teachers I encountered in middle/high school were my history teachers.

  10. Matt Spak says:

    Well, I got 29 of 33. But to quantify that just a bit, I went to technical high school, and never was required to read any of the novels listed on here. Due to a strong history background, it’s pretty easy to decipher the setting for “A Tale of Two Cities”. . .and even without READING Greek mythology, you should absorb most of the general characters through a classical education. But, like most of the older people taking this survey, I am a product of a different system. The way that my children are being instructed currently, I’m not sure they would have scored as well.

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