Photo by the Associated Press
In 1912, Kentucky's Bullitt County school system used a general examination to test the knowledge of eighth graders, and the questions are leaving adults scratching their head.
The subjects ranged from arithmetic, geography, civil government, physiology, grammar and history with questions such as "What is a personal pronoun?", "Who discovered Lawrence River?", and "Define Cerebrum".
After reading over the typewritten test posted on Lew Rockwell, many adults can't pass the test and are subsequently criticizing the U.S. school system.
"I performed poorly," wrote Jezebel's Laura Beck. "But to be fair/excuse my stupidity, some of the answers, especially history, are very different now that we know more of the truth."
Other questions are specific to Bullitt County, such as "Name five county officers in your region" and others are long outdated and use terms like "pennyweight", derived from the weight of an English penny (1.56 grams) during the time of King Henry III.
Many Americans have claimed that education standards have declined recently and in terms of college graduation, they may be right. In 1995, the U.S. ranked second highest among 19 countries with comparable data and in 2010, fell to 13th among 25 countries with comparable data.
Critics of the test that Bullitt County eighth graders participated in over a hundred years ago, believe children were no smarter back then, than children today, by noting the emphasis on pure memorization of facts, and the lack of questions prompting critical thinking.
Parents have combated the supposed irrelevance of memorization by supporting it as a foundation for critical thinking. In order to understand the "why" and "where" of today's world events, children should know basic history and geography.
The entire test could be deemed unsuitable to rate today's standards according to the Bullitt County Census Data from 1910. It shows that there were 845 children between the ages of 10 and 14 attending school, out of a possible 1,032, which is about 82 percent.
"This test may have been used in 1912 to determine if someone has passed the eighth grade, but it was not an achievement test to determine the learning level of all 14 year olds," one man commented on the Huffington Post. "The poor and less bright children would have already left school and were working by age 14 ..."
"... The children who took this test were probably children of upper-middle and upper classes or children who were so smart that someone noticed their potential and sponsored them," he went on to explain on the Huffington Post.
A Bullitt County 1911 school report written by superintendent Ora L. Roby may back up his claim. She talked about how even though the teachers advocated for children to stay in school, the law had a smaller effect on that back then.
"The Compulsory School Law, I think is a step in the right direction," wrote Ms. Roby. "But we find it defective, that there is no jail sentence attached."
By age 15 to 17, only 268 children out of a possible 523 were attending school in 1910, dropping to just over 50 percent, which in modern days is no longer realistic for the United States.
View the examination on Lew Rockwell.
First Coast News