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Study: Nearly 1 in 4 Students Fails Military Entrance Exam


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Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don't even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn't graduate high school.

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/12/21/apnewsbreak-percent-pass-military-exam/#ixzz18rzfI1KY

 

 

 

 

 

So 75% don't qualify to take the test and 25 % of kids trying to enlist don't pass the test. How long before there aren't enough recruits?

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Isn't it more accurate to say 25% of those that want to join the Army fail the exam?

 

Not really. In some schools everyone takes the ASVAB. There are 34 states in which all high school juniors take the exam. It's more accurate to say that 25% of those who take the ASVAB fail the exam.

 

or they lower the test standards?

 

I hope that is unlikely at this point. The standards are already pretty darn low for some jobs.

 

I thought everyone had to take the ASVAB? In the late 90's, when I was in high school, we didn't get a choice. We all took it as a standard testing requirement. There were no fitness standards just to take the test. I wonder if that has changed.

 

There is a fitness standard when you are taking it as part of the enlistment process, not when you take it as a high school student.

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My son just took the ASVAB in June. He missed 1 question and then they found out that their answer was wrong?! So he didn't miss any... It is not required that highschool students take the ASVAB. None of my kids who are in highschool have ever had to take it. There is not fitness requirement either if you are taking it for enlistment purposes.

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Not really. In some schools everyone takes the ASVAB. There are 34 states in which all high school juniors take the exam. It's more accurate to say that 25% of those who take the ASVAB fail the exam.

 

I see. I must live in a state where we all take it.

 

I hope that is unlikely at this point. The standards are already pretty darn low for some jobs.

 

 

 

There is a fitness standard when you are taking it as part of the enlistment process, not when you take it as a high school student.

 

That's what I thought. My dh joined the USMC after we met, so I am pretty familiar with the enlistment process. Or at least what it was in the 90's.

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Not really. In some schools everyone takes the ASVAB. There are 34 states in which all high school juniors take the exam. It's more accurate to say that 25% of those who take the ASVAB fail the exam.

 

Also all armed forces require the exam, but the army requires the lowest score. You have to take more exams and have a higher score to get into the other forces and coast guard.

 

There is a fitness standard when you are taking it as part of the enlistment process, not when you take it as a high school student.

 

Yes. And not all taking it are still in high school. Some just graduated or are in their early 20s. Everyone entering the armed forces has to take it.

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My son just took the ASVAB in June. He missed 1 question and then they found out that their answer was wrong?! So he didn't miss any... It is not required that highschool students take the ASVAB. None of my kids who are in highschool have ever had to take it. There is not fitness requirement either if you are taking it for enlistment purposes.

 

I've never even heard of the ASVAB, so I assume it's not a test that everyone takes. At least not in MI back in '97 when I graduated.

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Also all armed forces require the exam, but the army requires the lowest score. You have to take more exams and have a higher score to get into the other forces and coast guard.

 

One other point about this (just to clarify for those who don't have any clue about the military)-part of the reason you can get a lower score in the Army is that there are a lot of non-technical jobs in the Army, that's less true of the other services. If you make a low ASVAB in the Army you can be a truck driver, a cook, something like that. You will not qualify for better jobs and/or higher level training/educational programs.

 

 

Yes. And not all taking it are still in high school. Some just graduated or are in their early 20s. Everyone entering the armed forces has to take it.
Good point.

 

I've never even heard of the ASVAB, so I assume it's not a test that everyone takes. At least not in MI back in '97 when I graduated.

 

Just to clarify what I was saying, not all students are required to take the test. So, a homeschooled student would not be *required* to take the test. But, the public schools in 34 states administer the test to all high school juniors. eta: It is labeled a career exploration program. Students may not realize that it is the ASVAB or that it is affiliated with the military.

Edited by Mrs Mungo
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I thought everyone had to take the ASVAB? In the late 90's, when I was in high school, we didn't get a choice. We all took it as a standard testing requirement. There were no fitness standards just to take the test. I wonder if that has changed.

 

It must totally depend on your hs. I took the ACT/SAT. I had no interest whatsoever in joining the military and had never heard of the ASVAB until I met my dh. He took it and passed but went to college instead.

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I had no idea high school kids are taking it in school. I thought that only people interested in enlisting took the ASVAB. I know we didn't take it back in high school. If this statistic is including high school students who are taking it in school with no understanding of why they are taking this test, doesn't that skew the statistics. Test takers who don't really care about the results usually don't put much effort forth. Some might acutally bomb it on purpose. I think it would be much more valuable to know how many potential enlistees who take the test fail it. I would think you would get a much more accurate result from looking at a pool of test takers who WANT to pass.

 

Mary

 

ETA: It looks like the article linked here was talking about only those test takers who wanted to join the military - which IS very troubling. The first line starts with, "Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam. . ." (bolding mine)

Edited by Mary in VA
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The only fitness part that you may be referring to is the physical exam that is given at MEPS when going through the enlistment process. DS did not have to do any kind of "fitness exam" as part of his ASVAB to get into the airforce. When he was at MEPS he just a very routine physical exam, which wasn't (imo) any different than what his pediatrician would do.

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Just to clarify what I was saying, not all students are required to take the test. So, a homeschooled student would not be *required* to take the test. But, the public schools in 34 states administer the test to all high school juniors. eta: It is labeled a career exploration program. Students may not realize that it is the ASVAB or that it is affiliated with the military.

Funny, my sister got non-stop mailings from the Navy when she was in high school; I never knew why, as she expressed no interest. I, on the other hand, never had any contact with any military recruiters whatsoever, and no mailings.

 

I thought this problem had been on-going, and the fitness problems had been identified by the military as a national security risk.

 

It is certainly shocking. Even more so that 1/2 of African American applicants failed. How can we turn this around?

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I had no idea high school kids are taking it in school. I thought that only people interested in enlisting took the ASVAB. I know we didn't take it back in high school. If this statistic is including high school students who are taking it in school with no understanding of why they are taking this test, doesn't that skew the statistics. Test takers who don't really care about the results usually don't put much effort forth. Some might acutally bomb it on purpose. I think it would be much more valuable to know how many potential enlistees who take the test fail it. I would think you would get a much more accurate result from looking at a pool of test takers who WANT to pass.

 

Mary

 

ETA: It looks like the article linked here was talking about only those test takers who wanted to join the military - which IS very troubling. The first line starts with, "Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam. . ." (bolding mine)

 

I didn't know that either.

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I had no idea high school kids are taking it in school. I thought that only people interested in enlisting took the ASVAB. I know we didn't take it back in high school. If this statistic is including high school students who are taking it in school with no understanding of why they are taking this test, doesn't that skew the statistics. Test takers who don't really care about the results usually don't put much effort forth. Some might acutally bomb it on purpose. I think it would be much more valuable to know how many potential enlistees who take the test fail it. I would think you would get a much more accurate result from looking at a pool of test takers who WANT to pass.

 

Mary

 

ETA: It looks like the article linked here was talking about only those test takers who wanted to join the military - which IS very troubling. The first line starts with, "Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam. . ." (bolding mine)

 

Okay, I looked up the actual study and it only dealt with high school GRADUATES. So, that isn't 1 in 4 high school STUDENTS, it is 1 in 4 high school GRADUATES cannot score high enough to enlist. That's pretty sad.

 

The only fitness part that you may be referring to is the physical exam that is given at MEPS when going through the enlistment process. DS did not have to do any kind of "fitness exam" as part of his ASVAB to get into the airforce. When he was at MEPS he just a very routine physical exam, which wasn't (imo) any different than what his pediatrician would do.

 

A *lot* of potential recruits fail the height/weight requirement. Weighing you is one of the first things a recruiting station will do.

 

Funny, my sister got non-stop mailings from the Navy when she was in high school; I never knew why, as she expressed no interest. I, on the other hand, never had any contact with any military recruiters whatsoever, and no mailings.

 

I got non-stop calls from the Navy because I scored perfectly on the mechanical and technical parts of the test.

 

I thought this problem had been on-going, and the fitness problems had been identified by the military as a national security risk.

 

Now, both things are being identified as a national security risk, I think.

 

It is certainly shocking. Even more so that 1/2 of African American applicants failed. How can we turn this around?

 

Have you read Savage Inequalities?

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I got non-stop calls from the Navy because I scored perfectly on the mechanical and technical parts of the test.

I am almost positive I never took the ASVAB, and I would be shocked if she did as she never expressed an interest in a military career.

Now, both things are being identified as a national security risk, I think.

Rightly so -- I can't imagine how well an uneducated, unhealthy population could defend itself.

Have you read Savage Inequalities?

No, I haven't. Although I did read Shame of the Nation. I will add it to my list at the library!

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I am almost positive I never took the ASVAB, and I would be shocked if she did as she never expressed an interest in a military career.

 

I was never interested, but all juniors in my high school took the test.

 

Rightly so -- I can't imagine how well an uneducated, unhealthy population could defend itself.

:iagree:

 

No, I haven't. Although I did read Shame of the Nation. I will add it to my list at the library!

 

Ah, yes, that was a good one too.

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My ds told me the test was extremely easy and he could have taken it his sophomore year and passed it. My dd also took it because she was going to go into the Marines and she didn't miss a thing on it. It doesn't say much about our ps system when graduates can't even pass this thing. Honestly, I am a little scared.

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My ds told me the test was extremely easy and he could have taken it his sophomore year and passed it. My dd also took it because she was going to go into the Marines and she didn't miss a thing on it. It doesn't say much about our ps system when graduates can't even pass this thing. Honestly, I am a little scared.

 

Sample questions.

 

 

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/l/blasvabsample.htm

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Well, the one question for each sections seems quite a bit easier than most listed in the samples given here on the Kaplan site and here on a website named ASVAB career exploration. Such as :

 

Q29. The circuit shown in the diagram contains a battery and two light bulbs. If one light bulb burns out, the other will

q29_asvabtest.jpg

A. no longer burn.

B. continue to burn.

C. flicker on and off.

D. burn more brightly.

 

Q34. Where does combustion take place?

q34_asvabtest.jpg

A. 3

B. 4

C. 5

D. 6

 

Just saying.

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Well, the one question for each sections seems quite a bit easier than most listed in the samples given here on the Kaplan site and here on a website named ASVAB career exploration. Such as :

 

Q29. The circuit shown in the diagram contains a battery and two light bulbs. If one light bulb burns out, the other will

q29_asvabtest.jpg

A. no longer burn.

B. continue to burn.

C. flicker on and off.

D. burn more brightly.

 

Q34. Where does combustion take place?

q34_asvabtest.jpg

A. 3

B. 4

C. 5

D. 6

 

Just saying.

 

I agree, for a high school graduate this should be no harder than brushing one's hair.

 

Piece of cake comes to mind.

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I agree, for a high school graduate this should be no harder than brushing one's hair.

 

Piece of cake comes to mind.

I certainly don't think it is an extremely difficult test, but I don't think it's quite as easy as was depicted in the sample chosen (such as finding a synonym for "small" -- clearly a ridiculous question!).

 

In my high school, we weren't allowed near any saws of the sort described in the question on one of the websites. I think some people do this in their spare time, but I didn't have shop class in my high school. I remember using a soldering iron in metal working class in 6th grade, and maybe we had a bunsen burner in chemistry, but I don't think many schools do much practical, hands on stuff these days.

 

I wish a high school diploma meant more. It really should be an academic accomplishment. P.D. James never went to college, for example. But those were the good old days?

 

How's high school where you are, pqr? Is it more meaningful?

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I took it in high school. The marines hounded me for several years after graduation until I told them I planned to stay pregnant the rest of my adult life. I was being a smart a$$ at the time. Guess the joke was on me!

 

So I guess I did okay on it. I remember struggling with some of the math, which makes since as I had never had beyond a semester of algebra I.

 

But mostly I don't remember thinking it was especially difficult.

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In my high school, we weren't allowed near any saws of the sort described in the question on one of the websites. I think some people do this in their spare time, but I didn't have shop class in my high school. I remember using a soldering iron in metal working class in 6th grade, and maybe we had a bunsen burner in chemistry, but I don't think many schools do much practical, hands on stuff these days.

 

And to be fair, many of the better schools usually didn't offer much by way of trades and common skills.

 

I think these type of questions often reflect the desire for people from a certain back ground. For example, I remember lots of that stuff because it was at home constantly around me bc of the men in the house. So I might do better on that section than a kid from a background you describe. But that doesn't necessarily reflect the actual schooling I received.

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I certainly don't think it is an extremely difficult test, but I don't think it's quite as easy as was depicted in the sample chosen (such as finding a synonym for "small" -- clearly a ridiculous question!).

 

In my high school, we weren't allowed near any saws of the sort described in the question on one of the websites. I think some people do this in their spare time, but I didn't have shop class in my high school. I remember using a soldering iron in metal working class in 6th grade, and maybe we had a bunsen burner in chemistry, but I don't think many schools do much practical, hands on stuff these days.

 

I wish a high school diploma meant more. It really should be an academic accomplishment. P.D. James never went to college, for example. But those were the good old days?

 

How's high school where you are, pqr? Is it more meaningful?

 

Fine, drop the question about the saw, that still leaves 97.5% available and this is a multiple choice test.

 

There is a reason that many foreign nations laugh at us and the fact that anyone would FAIL the test is indicative of the reason.

 

When I was in high school overseas(we are going back a few years) I cannot imagine anyone having trouble with that test. It really is at about a 7th grade level, maybe (on one or two questions) 8th.

 

It is a joke. Someone posted that 31% is needed to pass. Given that it is multiple choice, with only 4 choices, you would need to be close to a functional illiterate to fail.

 

Have standards really fallen so low that this test is deemed challenging?

Edited by pqr
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It is a joke. Someone posted that 31% is needed to pass. Given that it is multiple choice, with only 4 choices, you would need to be close to a functional illiterate to fail.

I certainly agree with you that it's troubling, but there is something very practical on that test, that I just don't think today's students are expected to do. Questions tend to be framed in a very obvious fashion in current textbooks, NOT in a real life way. And, correctly, I think, the military is expecting young people to be able to apply their knowledge (of vocabulary, science, tools, math, and all the rest) to a real life situation. I think there's been an enormous disconnect of what is learned, to the real world. Only "smart" students study science, and it's removed from the real world. No one builds anything anymore at home like radios, or fixes stuff in the garage. No one does back of the envelope calculations. Sad to say, but almost all the Americans I meet who are not immigrants and who are under the age of 40 have a shocking lack of financial knowhow. My husband stood behind someone at the post office who was surprised her car was being repossessed -- it turns out that she makes only about $200 more a month than the car payment. Why didn't she figure that out? So that questions like

 

4. Which of the following animals has the highest metabolic rate?

A. dog

B. horse

C. mouse

D. rabbit

 

and

 

1. Loads are connected to a voltage source by [ ? ].

A. batteries

B. switches

C. light bulbs

D. conductors

 

and

 

5. All of the following are parts of a cutting torch assembly, EXCEPT:

A. pressure regulators

B. hoses

C. oxygen bottle

D. gas converter

 

are just not things that many of today's teenagers have even ever HEARD of!

 

I invite people here to look at the questions on the sites I linked to (here and here), and see how many they know.

 

Have standards really fallen so low that this test is deemed challenging?
Apparently.

 

I don't know what kids are learning these days. I honestly can't figure it out. It doesn't sound like sex ed is making much inroads either, despite all the hoopla over that, judging by the shock (!) on the part of this former porn actor who didn't realize sex with promiscuous strangers without condoms can lead to STDs and HIV.

Edited by stripe
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Here is a real life example of how schools are failing people. I know a woman who was complaining to me that she was painting a room and the paint didn't paint NEARLY as much of the room as the paint can said it would. Her room was 10x10 and the paint can said it would cover 100 square feet. I had the devil of a time explaining that if she had 8 foot ceilings, she was going to need a lot more paint, because she only had enough to cover the ceiling or floor.

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I thought everyone had to take the ASVAB? In the late 90's, when I was in high school, we didn't get a choice. We all took it as a standard testing requirement. There were no fitness standards just to take the test. I wonder if that has changed.

 

I remember taking it at the end of 9th or 10th. It took years before I stopped receiving recruiting mail. I don't remember why they had me take the test at that age, but not every one at my school did.

 

Danielle

Edited by USDGAL
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Here is a real life example of how schools are failing people. I know a woman who was complaining to me that she was painting a room and the paint didn't paint NEARLY as much of the room as the paint can said it would. Her room was 10x10 and the paint can said it would cover 100 square feet. I had the devil of a time explaining that if she had 8 foot ceilings, she was going to need a lot more paint, because she only had enough to cover the ceiling or floor.

 

No, no, no. Oh no. Wow!! Did she finally believe you?

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She isn't a homeschool mom, if that helps. ;)

 

 

Only to the degree that HS children will be part of the educated elite.

 

I still fear for the nation as the illiterate uneducated voter is easily misled. Further the student in China, who will work for 15% of the American and is twice as educated, poses a real threat to our position on the global playing field.

Edited by pqr
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These results don't surprise me at all. One only need to work in my local public high school (where I've worked subbing in math/science classes for 11 years now) to see the following examples I had just mentioned in a thread on the high school board:

 

Note: None of these kids have mental issues to where these things should be a problem. That's a different scenario.

 

I've seen kids that can't multiply 2x4 without a calculator or do any other calculations with multiplying/dividing or even beyond the simple 2+4 in addition or subtraction without one.

 

I've seen kids that can't read and understand what they are reading if the book is any deeper than a basic comic book. They can't understand a newspaper article for instance.

 

I've seen kids that watch a movie (educational) and then can't tell you anything they actually learned from it as they were watching, but not focused on it - their minds were elsewhere.

 

I've seen kids that can't place a single country or state on an unmarked map - not even Florida.

 

I've seen kids that don't know Maine IS a state. Ditto that with Idaho.

 

I've seen kids that can't tell the difference between water and land on a black and white map with a key.

 

These are some just off the top of my head this morning... and all come from my actual (IRL) public school subbing experiences (high school). None of the examples are rare. I can expect those problems (or similar ones) pretty much every day I teach with the exception of a few higher level classes. And remember, I'm not talking about learning disabled kids. I'm talking "average" classes. Not all kids have these problems, of course, but there are those that do.

 

Our state has now put science on our state standards test that kids have to pass (low passing score) to graduate. Over a third of our seniors failed last year and needed to retake it. I don't think their year had to pass to graduate. I think it's still in the testing period, but soon, we're going to have some major issues.

 

Later in the thread I originally posted the above on, someone asked me "why" this was the case. Allow me to cut and paste my response:

 

The students know so little because they don't care. Literally, they don't want to know these things, so they don't learn them, or learn them for a test, then forget because they never put "stuff" into long term learning - just short term memorization. Our school district covers all the items I mentioned in earlier grades, so the kids were exposed to the ideas/info, but they see no need to remember any of it.

 

Of course, the same kids can tell you all about Hollywood stars, cars, video games, or whatever else they ARE into, but can't tell you the meaning of Biology (study of life) or do the math or know geography, etc.

 

And yes, via standardized testing our school district falls slightly below average for our state and our state is slightly above average for the country. We are semi-rural, but not in the boonies. Average income for our county is slightly below the state average. Spending in the school is high. Technology is in our school moreso than many I've read about. Most teachers know their material reasonably well or well. What we can't do is turn on the brains.

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Your examples are stunning. I think your final sentence sums it up well. Throwing more money or better tests at this problem will not fix it.

 

My youngest is at this school in 9th grade (went back for reasons other than educational!). He had a 20th Century history test this past week and got the results yesterday. The DAY before the test the teacher told them exactly what was going to be on it and let each class (3) study/review. Out of the three classes he was the only student who scored 100%. Twenty five students failed it. My son didn't even need to study - after all, they did that in class.

 

My son tells stories that equally compare to mine - yet I still can't convince him to come back home. Actually, he's rather relishing his position as the "smart" one in school (and we're supplementing learning at home, so it will work out). He often gets needled from kids who ask why he is so "proper" and puts so much effort into things when a "C" will pass.

 

My son isn't the only "academic" kid in this school, of course, but those that put forth effort are less common than those that don't care. I feel for those who are "academic" as they can't do nearly as much as they could if they had more peers. Just letting us kick out the students who don't care and/or act out (behavioral problems) would do wonders for the others. And I'm still not talking about special needs kids - just "average" ones who could do better if they cared and wanted to.

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My kids who went and are in highschool would tell you the same thing about studying for tests and being one of the smarter ones in their class. I think that some of it comes down to just real life and common sense too. We have focused so much on filling their heads with facts that we have neglected to teach them how to function in life. It is a sad situation.

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My kids who went and are in highschool would tell you the same thing about studying for tests and being one of the smarter ones in their class. I think that some of it comes down to just real life and common sense too. We have focused so much on filling their heads with facts that we have neglected to teach them how to function in life. It is a sad situation.

 

I miss the point, how are we focusing on facts and not teaching them to function?

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"Teaching them the facts" is educationese to say that kid are expected to "memorize" (short term) information in order to score well on tests. This has nothing to do with long term memory or building on what was previously known. If you read much ed lit at all you'll hear writers harp on how our ed system is all about "memorizing facts."

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After high school I could (and still can) do math through calculus (including how much paint is needed to paint a room), label states and countries on a map, answer most questions about biology, chemistry, environmental science, ecology, etc. but I would not be able to answer any questions involved with wood working, mechanics, combustion engines and probably very few involving electricity or physics. I took one woodshop class in junior high and that was the extent of my vocational classes. I was considered "college/honors track" and vocational classes were not part of the plan. I grew up in an apartment in an urban area with a single mom. We usually didn't have a car or a television so I certainly wasn't playing around learning how to fix them and home repairs were done by the super.

 

I have since learned how to change the oil and a tire on a car, can take apart and repair a computer, and can install and program phone and voice mail systems.

 

I think a lot of kids in suburban/urban areas are going to have very limited experience with fixing machinery/doing home repair unless they take specific classes in those areas through a vocational school.

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Well, the one question for each sections seems quite a bit easier than most listed in the samples given here on the Kaplan site and here on a website named ASVAB career exploration. Such as :

 

Q29. The circuit shown in the diagram contains a battery and two light bulbs. If one light bulb burns out, the other will

q29_asvabtest.jpg

A. no longer burn.

B. continue to burn.

C. flicker on and off.

D. burn more brightly.

 

Q34. Where does combustion take place?

q34_asvabtest.jpg

A. 3

B. 4

C. 5

D. 6

 

Just saying.

 

I wouldn't be able to answer these. I would have to guess (although the lightbulb picture is vaguely familiar).

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"Teaching them the facts" is educationese to say that kid are expected to "memorize" (short term) information in order to score well on tests. This has nothing to do with long term memory or building on what was previously known. If you read much ed lit at all you'll hear writers harp on how our ed system is all about "memorizing facts."

 

If this is what was meant then I strongly disagree.

Why is memorization only short term? I still remember the poems that I was "forced" to learn in school, I still remember the litany of dates, capitals, rivers, planets ...... all of which I was expected to memorize and was tested on repeatedly.

If one does not memorize nations and their capitals then one frequently does not know them. There is little written on the capital of Togo (Lome) but I still expect that my children know it. The only way to do this is through memorization, followed up with a few facts.

Further, memorization is a mental discipline, unto itself, and well worth promoting in children. It is through the fitful use of memorization drills that "short term" memorization comes, when constantly employed the time both to memorize and the length of retention are improved.

Moving away from memorization of lists is perhaps one of the reasons that American children are seen as singularly ill-informed.

I do teach my children how to function and see no reason why both cannot be achieved.

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all of which I was expected to memorize and was tested on repeatedly.

 

 

I think this is the difference - you were expected to memorize it and tested repeatedly. Kids today see something once, memorize it long enough to pass the test and then never see it again. I was in school in the 80's - I still remember the order of the planets (including pluto of course) without using any assists, can name all 50 states in order, etc but I saw the information over and over and over again. So, I think memorization has its place but it needs to be done correctly, for the right reasons and ocassionally reinforced.

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