America's Dumb 4th Graders Don't Know What 'Puzzled' Means (Don't Worry, They Can't Read This)

Hope you weren't counting on any fourth-graders to help you decipher next week's episode of The Fairly Odd Parents. These motherfuckers are D-U-M dumb!

The Wall Street Journal published Friday the results of a national vocabulary assessment test administered to about 381,100 fourth and eighth graders in 2011. The results were pineapple – an adverb (n.) meaning ungoodish or ruh-roh (according to America's fourth and eighth graders).

The younger kids averaged a score of 218 out of 500, delighting the adults in their lives by recognizing such words as "created," "spread," and "underestimate," as in "We underestimated how poorly you'd do on this test.

Unfortunately, they found "puzzled" rather puzzling. (You can download the full results report from the National Center for Education Statistics website.)

After reading a story that featured a scene in which young English boys are "puzzled" not to find any ducks in a garden, 31% of students reported that the boys were "surprised there were so many ducks in the garden." 51% got the question right.

Eighth graders scored an average of 265 out of 500 in their assessments, proving that, like a cheap wine, the human brain really does get better with age. But only slightly.

For instance, 75% (or more) of eighth graders recognized the meaning of "edible," which is great because, as Americans, one of their primary concerns is the edibility of all foodstuffs/objects they encounter.

The kids were less clear on the definitions of "responsible," "wistful," and "vast." Less than half understood the world "urbane;" as eighth graders, they are too young to shop at Urbane Outfitters.

A reading specialist from a place called Butts Road Intermediate School (that was obviously named by a particularly brilliant group of fourth graders) explained to the Wall Street Journal that the vocabulary scores would improve if students would just read a book, any book, even a cook book, at some point in their lives.

However, even though our kids are dumb, dumb as doornails, dead as dunces, they still are not as dumb as the Wall Street Journal would have us believe.

Here's a correction that ran on the WSJ website:

The test results showed that nearly half of eighth-graders didn't know that "permeates" means to "spread all the way through," and about the same proportion of fourth-graders didn't know that "puzzled" means confused. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that nearly half of eighth-graders didn't know the meaning of "puzzled."

By eighth grade, a lot of them have figured that one out.

[Wall Street Journal // National Center for Education Statistics // Image via Shutterstock]