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It’s Not Just Kids – American Adults Are Getting Dumber, Too


While everyone sat around decrying the state of modern education, the Associated Press came out with a study that shows it’s not just the youngsters lagging behind other countries in academic achievement. Adults in the U.S. are falling behind, too.

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The report released Tuesday says that Japan and Finland topped the charts in an international test measuring life skills like reading, math and problem solving using technology. Americans tested below the world average in all those areas considered critical for global competitiveness, according to the Associated Press.

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The study – called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies – tested about 166,000 people between the ages of 16 and 65 in more than 20 countries. It showed that in America, it’s harder to move up in life if your parents are college-educated, reinforcing the gap between upper and middle classes. 

“It’s not just the kids who require more and more preparation to get access to the economy, it’s more and more the adults don’t have the skills to stay in it,” Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, tells the AP.

If you want to avoid having an underclass of less-educated, it’s time to reform the education system, Jacob Kirkegaard, an economist with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, tells the AP.

The LA Times noted, too, that the study shows declining literacy rates in today’s adults compared to two decades ago.

“People in their thirties and forties in 2012 scored significantly lower than people in their same age group in 1994,” LAT writes. “The drop among 30-year-olds was less dramatic.”

Now let’s all go pick up a book before we get even dumber.

You can download the entire report here.

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Jennifer Wadsworth
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