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Fault Lines in Our Democracy

Fault Lines in Our Democracy

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A report by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) shows that American students know little about American history or our democracy. This disturbing given the colossal mess our nation is in. The solutions to our problems can only come from people who are knowledgeable about our democracy, engaged in the voting process, and have a spirit of volunteerism.
A report by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) shows that American students know little about American history or our democracy. This disturbing given the colossal mess our nation is in. The solutions to our problems can only come from people who are knowledgeable about our democracy, engaged in the voting process, and have a spirit of volunteerism.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Deb Equality Della Piana on May 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/01/2012

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Fault Lines in Our Democracy
Civic Knowledge, Voting Behavior,and Civic Engagementin the United States
 
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Table of Contents
Preface ....................................................................................................2Acknowledgments ..................................................................................2Executive Summary ...............................................................................3Introduction ............................................................................................5The Status of Civics Knowledge and Education in Our Schools ...........7Who Votes and Who Doesn’t? .............................................................13Civic Engagement ................................................................................21Attitudes and Interests ..........................................................................25An International Perspective on Adolescents’ Political Attitudes ........28Summary and Conclusions ...................................................................30Appendix ...............................................................................................36
This report was written by:
Richard J. ColeyEducational Testing ServiceAndrew SumCenter for Labor Market StudiesNortheastern University
Author contacts:
rcoley@ets.orga.sum@neu.edu
The views expressed in this reportare those of the authors and do notnecessarily reect the views of theofcers and trustees of EducationalTesting Service.Copies can be downloaded from:
www.ets.org/research
Copyright © 2012 byEducational Testing Service.All rights reserved. ETS, theETS logo and LISTENING.LEARNING. LEADING.are registered trademarksof Educational TestingService (ETS).April 2012ETS Center for Research onHuman Capital and EducationResearch and DevelopmentEducational Testing Service
Rosedale RoadPrinceton, NJ 08541-00011-609-252-8671
 
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When researchers report on gaps in educationalattainment and income among different segments of theU.S. population, the most immediate concern is usuallythe long-term social impact that such gaps imply. Asthis year’s national elections quickly approach, authorsRichard J. Coley and Andrew Sum suggest in this reportthat these gaps pose another, perhaps equally concerning,threat to the nation’s well being: They indicate fault linesin our democracy, because they reliably predict whichgroups are most or least likely to participate in the mostfundamental activities of a representative democracy — voting and civic engagement.Beginning with the dismal state of the civicsknowledge of our nation’s students, the cornerstone of a strong democracy, the authors document the strongassociation between individual characteristics — suchas age, education, and income — and important civicactivities, such as voting and volunteering. Their analysesreveal a startling level of stratication at the nation’s polling stations, from a voting rate of 3.5 percent for voting-age high school dropouts to 80.5 percent for well-off, advanced-degree holders between the agesof 55 and 64. “This,” they write, “represents a seriouscivic empowerment gap for our nation.”At ETS, this gap concerns us because we arededicated to measuring knowledge and skills, promotinglearning and educational performance, and supportingeducation and professional development for all peopleworldwide. We hope that readers will consider not onlythe authors’ thoughtful analysis of the data, but also their recommendations for addressing the educational needsthat the data imply.Ida LawrenceSenior Vice PresidentResearch & Development
Preface
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributionsof many individuals who played signicant roles inthe preparation of this report. At the Center for Labor Market Studies, we are grateful for the work of Ishwar Khatiwada, Troy Martin, Joseph McLaughlin, SheilaPalma, and Mykhaylo Trubskyy. At ETS, we wantto acknowledge the support of Irwin Kirsch and IdaLawrence. Larry Hanover and Eileen Kerrigan wereeditors; Marita Gray designed the cover; and SallyAcquaviva provided layout and design services.The authors wish to thank the following individualswho provided reviews of the report: Timothy Barnicle, National Center on Education and the Economy; AdamBerinsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; IrwinKirsch, ETS; Peter Levine, Center for Informationand Research on Civic Learning and Engagement;Judith Torney-Purta, University of Maryland; andGail Spangenberg, Council for Advancement of AdultLiteracy. Errors of fact or interpretation are those of the authors.
 Acknowledgments

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