Adults in the United States have fallen behind their third-grade peers in China and throughout Asia in math, science, reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and walking upright, according to a study released Thursday by the Institute for the Assessment of Pre-K and K-8 Educational Outcomes, based in Zurich.
The abysmal performance of U.S. adults on a series of lower-level and bottom-level thinking tests comes as a blow to President Donald Trump, who, “rather than making America great again, appears to be making it worse than it has ever been,” the study concludes. “If the erosion of cognitive skills in the American people continues at this rate, 70 percent of the adult population will be eligible for Early Childhood Education services by 2020, when Mr. Trump leaves office.”
In one of its 12 phases, the study measured the ability of test-takers to watch a 10-second video of a quacking buffoon and then identify the quacking buffoon as a quacking buffoon by saying, “That was a quacking buffoon.” While 98.4 percent of Chinese third-graders identified the quacking buffoon as a quacking buffoon, only 52.3 percent of U.S. adults did so.
“This astonishing result goes a long way toward explaining the current situation in the United States,” said chief test administrator Gabriella Hauenstein, who noted that nearly half the adult population would qualify for Head Start classes if it weren’t for the low-income requirement. “It’s an eye-popping fact that millions of Americans, many of whom have graduated from high school and gone to college, still could benefit from school readiness programs designed for 3-year-olds.”
In another phase of the study, test-takers were asked to spell the words “shame” and “embarrassment” in their native languages. Fully three-quarters of Chinese third-graders were able to do so correctly. Scores for U.S. adults were unavailable, as a slim majority of the Americans, or 51.6 percent, said they were unfamiliar with the words and so withdrew from the test.