I commented on this survey a few days ago. In that post I called for some historical perspective that could help us better understand the supposed lack of historical awareness among teenagers. Diane Ravitch – who serves as co-chair for Common Core – has an interesting article at HNN in which she compares their results with a survey she helped prepare back in 1986. Ravitch admits that the surveys are "not strictly comparable":
Yet, compare them I did, and it appears to me that the telephone sample of 2007 were somewhat better informed than their parents’ generation of 1986. In 1986, only 32% knew that the American Civil War occurred in the half-century between 1850-1900 (this was NOT a trick question!); now, 43% do. In 1986, 64% could identify the main holding of the Brown v. Board of Education decision; now, 71% can. On most questions of a factual nature, the proportion who answered correctly was either higher or the same, seldom lower. So perhaps the pressure to improve history education over the past 20 years was making some headway.
I recommend reading the entire article as Ravitch offers thoughtful commentary on the state of history education today.