Last week saw the release of the 2015 Nation’s Report Card scores in reading and math. When it comes to math, Americans were appalled to learn that only 25% of high school seniors are proficient in the subject.

Unfortunately, things aren’t all that much better for students in 8th grade. In 2015, only 33% of 8th graders scored proficient in math after answering questions like the ones below:


These questions are interesting, especially in light of the arithmetic exam 8th grade students took a century ago. The quiz below is taken from a 1908 examination booklet prepared by the Minnesota State High School Board. Students were expected to pass this exam – without a calculator, mind you – before being admitted to high school.

If today’s students were required to take the 1908 examination, do you think math proficiency would be even lower than 33%? Is it time to raise the bar on rigor in modern education?

Image Credit: The Martin Homepage