Fearing for the Future
While this report doesn’t explain the results of the recent election, it might explain the reaction to the election that we’re seeing at colleges and universities nationwide. This goes beyond just “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” Offering majors in basket weaving and “[fill-in-the-blank] studies” is doing nothing for the competitiveness of the US in the world market of ideas.
Think about this the next time someone (particularly a millennial) tries to tell you that “educated people” think this or think that. This report indicates that they don’t have the proper analytical skills to have an informed opinion (compared to most of their international peers or to previous generations), even the ones with the highest degrees.
Pay particular attention to the part that addresses “years of schooling” and “conferring of credentials and certificates.” Anyone who thinks that Sanders’s plan for “free college” would to do anything to help the country or the economy is fooling himself.
Keep in mind that this is a report produced by ETS — the folks who do the SAT/GRE/etc. tests. I’ve included a few excerpts from their summary below:
Millennials may be on track to be our most educated generation ever, but they consistently score below many of their international peers in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE).
… despite having the highest levels of educational attainment of any previous American generation, these young adults [those born after 1980 and between 16-34 years of age] on average demonstrate relatively weak skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their international peers. These findings hold true when looking at millennials overall, our best performing and most educated, those who are native born, and those from the highest socioeconomic background. Equally troubling is that these findings represent a decrease in literacy and numeracy skills for U.S. adults when compared with results from previous adult surveys.
The findings also offer a clear caution to anyone who believes that our policies around education should focus primarily on years of schooling or trusts that the conferring of credentials and certificates alone is enough. While it is true that, on average, the more years of schooling one completes, the more skills one acquires, this report suggests that far too many are graduating high school and completing postsecondary educational programs without receiving adequate skills.
- In literacy, U.S. millennials scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries. Only millennials in Spain and Italy had lower scores.
- In numeracy, U.S. millennials ranked last, along with Italy and Spain.
- Our best-educated millennials those with a master’s or research degree only scored higher than their peers in Ireland, Poland, and Spain.