OUR OPINION: Students stumble over military entrance exams

Attention.

A new study has found that nearly one quarter of students who attempt to enlist in the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam.

The results, as expected, are troubling for both educator and military leaders.

The report by The Education Trust revealed 23 percent of recent high school graduates failed to attain the minimum score on the enlistment test for any branch of the military.

The questions often are basic, including this example: “If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?”

Complicating the situation is that only about 25 percent of people aged 17 to 24 qualify to take the tests. A majority is disqualified because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or failed to graduate high school.

That means roughly 23 percent of 25 percent qualify to serve in the U.S. military.

Military leaders agree that although the Department of Defense now is meeting recruitment goals, doubt clouds the future, particularly if the economy, and hiring, improves.

“If you can’t get the people that you need, there’s a potential for a decline in readiness,” cautioned Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett.

In addition, the military – like every other aspect of life – has become much more high-tech, which requires recruits with strong fundamentals who can be trained to operate sophisticated equipment.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman R. Seip observed: “I don’t care if you’re a soldier carrying a backpack or someone sitting in a research laboratory, the things we expect out of our military members require a very, very well educated force.” Handing graduation certificates to high school students who cannot perform basic addition or construct a simple sentence is inexcusable. We must do better – for the future of both our students and our country. This report puts no one at ease.

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