The Pentagon has revealed plans for the military to allow calculators on its entrance exam — a timed test that measures academic ability and decides which jobs applicants might qualify for, if any.
Military.com reported that the recent change in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, known as the ASVAB, could stem a major recruiting slump. The slump has partially been attributed to young Americans not scoring high enough on the entrance exam to be admitted for enlistment.
This move puts the ASVAB on par with how test-taking has shifted and evolved over the past ten years. Calculators are now widely used in math classes and college entrance exams, such as the SAT and ACT.
A Pentagon official said, “We are taking a systematic approach, which will assess the impact of calculator use, and we are developing a way forward for calculator inclusion.”
The Army, Navy, and Air Force have fallen short the past two years in bringing in what they consider to be a sufficient number of recruits. The Marines and Space Force are more immune to recruitment shortfalls.
Defense One reported that the Army recently entered the second phase of its ad campaign, as it continues to suffer recruitment shortages. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said this has been the “most challenging recruitment environment in years.”
The Army came up 25% short of its recruiting goal of 60,000 soldiers last year. And it is likely to fall short of its goal of 65,000 recruits this year, Wormuth added.
While Military.com noted there are several reasons why there appears to be a shrinking pool of recruits, the driving force behind the shortage is that young Americans, between 17 and 24 years old, are being turned away due to poor performance on the military’s exam.
It is not certain when calculators will be allowed during the ASVAB. The ASVAB has remained unchanged for decades. The internal debate within the Pentagon revolves around this issue.
However, if calculators are used, it is possible that lawmakers will claim the Pentagon is lowering its standards in order to meet a quota. Some Republican lawmakers have said the services have gone “woke” over some of its recent policies.
In the class of 2022, ACT test performance plummeted to its lowest in 30 years. The Post Millennial reported the average score was 19.8 out of a possible 36. Fewer than 25% of ACT test takers adequately met all four subject-area benchmarks, which are minimal requirements that measure college preparedness.
Almost half of the test takers did not hit a single benchmark in English, reading, math, or science.
While COVID-19 could have played a role, Janet Godwin, CEO of the ACT, said in a 2022 statement that “these declines are not simply a byproduct of the pandemic.”
“They are further evidence of longtime systemic failures that were exacerbated by the pandemic.”
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