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A fundamental failure ; Military's entrance exam is too hard for nation's poorly educated recruits

If anyone is still in need of an example of America's under-performing educational system, then look no further than the recent study finding that nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam.

And we're not talking quantum physics. Students are failing on basic math, science and reading questions.

The report by Education Trust show a strong disconnect between expectations and results. This is particularly true in states and districts where per-pupil cost of education is higher than the norm.

In "Shut Out of the Military," a public analysis of the Army's Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, Education Trust found that more than one in five young people interested in enlisting do not meet the minimum eligibility standards required for the Army, as measured by the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

The report found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates fail to achieve the minimum score required on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. In other words, questions such as, "If 2 plus X equals 4, what is the value of X?" become brain-teasers many students cannot figure their way out of.

This is a real problem and a threat to the security of this nation's future and one that education officials must work to solve, now. In states like New York, where special education costs and other mandates are high and results fail to reach even a modest level, school officials -- along with teachers, parents and taxpayers -- must pay careful attention. It's no longer satisfactory to simply meet a minimal set of requirements. The world has become too small and too competitive.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Associated Press that he is deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America's under-performing education system. So should we all.

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