Many can’t pass Army’s basic skills test

MIAMI (AP) — More than 20 percent of all Michigan high school graduates who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, and the number rises to nearly 43 percent among African American students, according to a new national study, The Associated Press reported.

Nationally, nearly 23 percent of all applicants could not pass the Army’s basic math, science and reading test in the years 2004 to 2009, the study reported. The failure rate among whites was 16.4 percent; Hispanics, 29.1 percent; and African Americans, 38.7 percent, according to The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based children’s advocacy group.

Michigan’s corresponding failure rates were: 20.5 percent overall; 16.3 percent among white applicants; 24.4 percent among Hispanic applicants, and 42.7 percent among African American applicants, the study reported.  The total number of Michigan applicants was about 11,000.

The failure rate among African American students in Michigan was sixth highest in the nation, according to the report.

The pool of applicants already is limited, according to AP. Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don't qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn't graduate high school, AP reported.

This is the first time that the U.S. Army has released the test data publicly, Amy Wilkins of The Education Trust told AP.

The Associated Press, “AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 fails military exam,” Dec. 21, 2010

The Education Trust, “Shut Out of the Military: Today’s High School Education Doesn’t Mean You’re Ready for Today’s Army,” 2010.

Michigan Education Digest, “Schools shouldn’t use race, poverty as excuse,” April 30, 2009