Urban community scores below standard on common knowledge quiz

[slideshow_deploy id=’12438′]Urban is a school that prides itself on “academic excellence” through “rigorous engagement, comprehensive assessment and thoughtful self-evaluation,” according to Urban’s Mission and Core Values statement. And while there’s no disputing the fact that Urban is full of intelligent and insightful people, an alarming number of students, faculty, and staff can not answer basic questions about the world we live in.
Below is the quiz that 175 members of the Urban community filled out, along with some thoughts on my findings.

How many supreme court justices are there?
Which branch of government does the police department fall under?
Who was the second president of the US?
In what year was the first iPhone invented?**

What country is outlined in red?
What is the biggest ocean?
What are the 2 most populated countries in the world?
How old is the planet Earth?*
What is the boiling point of water in celsius?

Daily Living
What is the population of San Francisco?*
What is the population of California?*
What is the population of the US?*
How many days in a leap year?*

*answer must be within 10% of exact answer
**answer must be within 1 year of exact answer

Overall Urban Community Performance

Overall Urban Community Score: 61.45%

Number of Perfect Scores: 5

Worst Score: 0%

Parents pay $53,019 a year to send their kids to Urban, expecting a first-rate education, yet the average student body member scored a measly 60% on my common knowledge quiz. And faculty and staff didn’t do much better, only bumping the school average up by approximately 1.5%!

These scores beg the questions of a) whether Urban teachers need to alter their curriculums to incorporate basic questions, and b) whether common-knowledge is actually that important in daily life. Noa Marks ‘23 was conflicted on these questions, first thinking that Urban teachers should “spend more time teaching life-applicable things in addition to teaching us all the usual Urban stuff,” then changing course to say, “maybe Urban teachers shouldn’t be teaching it because it doesn’t really help you in any way.”

Urban Community Performance by Subject

Average Urban Community History Score: 59%

Average Urban Community Science Score: 71.09%

Average Urban Community Daily Living Score: 51.86%

Overall, the Urban community scored the best in science. This makes sense considering it was the only subject made up of questions that are often addressed in Urban classes. For example, the boiling point in celsius – also the most correctly answered question in the quiz – is consistently used in science classes to complete calculations and analyze labs.

On the other hand, Daily Living had the lowest average score. “Teachers aren’t constantly telling us the population of places, and so it doesn’t really surprise me that people didn’t get those right,” Marks said.

Noa Resnikoff ‘22 also chimed in, saying, “I don’t think Americans are known for their knowledge of geography and population in general, so that trend again makes sense to me. We study more of the history, and ‘why’ versus ‘what.’”


Highest Average Science Score: Faculty / Staff (82.31%)

Lowest Average Science Score: 11th Grade (65.12%)


Highest Average History Score: Faculty / Staff (67.31%)

Lowest Average History Score: 9th Grade (53.85%)

Daily Living

Highest Average Daily Living Score: Faculty / Staff (63.46%)

Lowest Average Daily Living Score: 10th Grade (57.5%)

The faculty and staff outperformed the student body in science. And history. And daily living. They outperformed the student body in Every. Single. Subject.

In terms of the lowest scoring, the student body split up the questions pretty evenly. However, props to seniors who didn’t score the lowest in any section. (Although what does it say to be celebrating not coming in last?)

Average 9th Grade Score: 57.2%

Average 10th Grade Score: 63.59%

Average 11th Grade Score: 56.17%

Average 12th Grade Score: 62.99%

Average Faculty / Staff Score: 71.89%

Contrary to common expectations, students in grades 9-12 all scored pretty similarly. Seniors, who have almost completed their four years of high school, have little show for their time at Urban, as their score was only a little higher than freshmen!

“I’m a little surprised that the lowest scoring wasn’t freshmen, but I suppose it’s just where some people’s areas of expertise are, or just random facts that they’ve discovered,” Resnikoff said.

Furthermore, faculty and staff only scored about 10% higher than the student body. However, Marks thought their score made sense, saying, “you kind of just learn through life and the teachers have more life so they have more chances to learn.”

A note to my fellow juniors: this was an unimpressive display of common-knowledge prowess. Not only did we score lower than grades 10 and 12, we even underperformed the 9th graders. What shame! Upon return to campus, will we have to relinquish our coveted Old Library lunch seats to the freshmen?

History: a) 9 b) Executive c) John Adams d) 2007
Science: a) France b) Pacific c) China, India d) 4.543B e) 100°
Daily Living: a) 874,961 b) 39.51M c) 328.2M d) 366