23 Percent Can’t Pass Military Exam

Dorie Turner, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 21, 2010

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the military fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions.

The report by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. The study, released exclusively to The Associated Press on Tuesday, comes on top of Pentagon data that shows 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t qualify for the military because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.

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This is the first time ever that the U.S. Army has released this test data publicly, said Amy Wilkins with The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based children’s advocacy group. She said the organization worked with the U.S. Army to get raw data on test takers from the past five years.

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The Education Trust study shows wide disparities in scores among white and minority students. Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared to 16 percent of whites.

Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared to 16 percent of whites

Recruits must score at least in the 31st percentile on the first stage of the three-hour test to get into the Army or the Marines. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard recruits must have higher scores.

The average score for blacks is 38 and for Hispanics is 44, compared to whites’ average score of 55. The scores reflect the similar racial gaps on other standardized exams.

Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared to 16 percent of whites.

The study also found disparities across states, with Wyoming having the lowest passage rate, at 13 percent, and Hawaii having the highest, at 38.3 percent.

Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared to 16 percent of whites.

A Department of Defense report notes the military must recruit about 15 percent of youth, but only one-third are eligible. More high school graduates are going to college than in earlier decades, and about one-fourth are obese, making them medically ineligible.

In 1980, by comparison, just 5 percent of youth were obese.

Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don’t pass, compared to 16 percent of whites.

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