75 Percent of Oklahoma High School Students Can't Name the First President of the U.S. Posted: Sep 16, 2009 11:17 AM MDT Updated: Sep 17, 2009 9:30 AM MDT Featured Video Oklahoma Students Score Low on Basic Civic Questions
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Gilbert Stuart's 1796 oil on canvas portrait of George Washington on display at Washington's National Portrait Gallery. A majority of Oklahoma high school students could not name Washington as the nation's first president in a recent survey. (AP Photo) News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today.
The survey was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in observance of Constitution Day on Thursday.
Brandon Dutcher is with the conservative think tank and said the group wanted to find out how much civic knowledge Oklahoma high school students know.
The Oklahoma City-based think tank enlisted national research firm, Strategic Vision, to access students' basic civic knowledge.
"They're questions taken from the actual exam that you have to take to become a U.S. citizen," Dutcher said.
A thousand students were given 10 questions drawn from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services item bank. Candidates for U.S. citizenship must answer six questions correctly in order to become citizens.
About 92 percent of the people who take the citizenship test pass on their first try, according to immigration service data. However, Oklahoma students did not fare as well. Only about 3 percent of the students surveyed would have passed the citizenship test.
Dutcher said this is not just a problem in Oklahoma. He said Arizona had similar results, which left him concerned for the entire country.
"Jefferson later said that a nation can't expect to be ignorant and free," Dutcher said. "It points to a real serious problem. We're not going to remain ignorant and free."