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Military: One in Five High School Grads Lack Academic Skills

We have known that far too many young people can't qualify for entry into the military because they haven't graduated from high school, have criminal records, or are physically unfit. But now we are learning that tens of thousands are falling short for academic reasons.

A study issued yesterday is the first one to examine the results of the military's own entrance exam. It shows that 20 percent of the recent high school graduates who take that test (the AFQT) don't meet the Army's minimum requirements of competency in reading, math, science, and problem-solving. (And keep in mind that the Army's cutoff is the lowest of all the military branches.)

It gets worse for young people who are members of minority groups. Nearly three in 10 Hispanics and four in 10 African-Americans fall short of the Army's eligibility mark. And those who do clear the mark do so with lower scores than white peers, narrowing their future pathways within the military.

The report, by the Washington-based Education Trust, looks at the numbers nationally as well as on a state-by-state basis, comparing the ineligibility rates of racial and ethnic subgroups in some states with those in others.

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