The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.
What worries me more it that the things measured should be (and in the past were expected) to be accomplished in high school. There was no measurement of actual knowledge about history, philosphy, culture, civilzation or anything related to a classcal education. What we have now is glorified trade schools designed solely for the purpose of preparing students to work for the government which runs, or controlls most employers in the US. You never used to think about going to college to learn accounting, programming, or other technical business skills. You went to open your hoizons to ideas and knowledge. To help you understand and find a place for yourself in the world, to fulfill yourself in all the higher human functions. In the pst 50 years higher education has been devalued and debased and our students have been robbed of their opportunity to receive a classical education and the very idea of classical education has been called irrelvant by cultural relativists.
College education was never intended as a universal requirement. Not everyone wants or needs it. But we have turned a college education into something that everyone must have and by doing so have made it something that has to cope with the remediation of the inadequacies of the lower education system and then to teach the trades. And then there is the cost of this effort. Truely the only way in which 'higher' is an accurate descriptor for our colleges and universities.
The Amercan Spectator has a thoughtful analysis of this report
IT IS DIFFICULT NOT to conclude that we are doomed, educationally, to a nationwide network of defective mental trade schools, where our "kids," who at the age of 25 once ran businesses and dressed like adults, are being diseducated at both ends. Lacking the lower-order skills that get a person successfully through their daily life without getting suckered into bankruptcy or stuck on the freeway without any gas, today's students are short of higher-end skills -- rational thought, analytical discrimination, the spark of life called nimble reason -- to the point of deprivation.