WASHINGTON, DC—Welcome news for America's much-maligned educational system arrived Monday, when a Department of Education study revealed that U.S. students rank first in the world in the field of TV jingle recall.

"This is tremendous," U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley said. "It finally proves that the youth of America can compete. Thanks to their hard work and years of dedicated television-watching, our children will have the edge in the highly competitive TV-jingle-based economy of the 21st century."

According to results of the five-year study, American students are twice as likely as students from such television-conscious countries as Germany and Japan to recall the melodies of TV jingles. On average, American students have four times as many jingles committed to memory as their foreign counterparts, and are, the study found, 10 times more likely to correctly identify the words, "My kitty cat craves roast beef" as the first line of the second verse of the popular 1987-92 ad jingle for Crave-brand cat food.

American students' TV-jingle retention is so high, in fact, that 89 percent of those tested were able to recall ad jingles that aired for only for a brief time—even, in some cases, years before they were born.

"One 14-year-old correctly recalled the words, 'Kiss: That's the name / Kiss: They got the look of fame' from an ad for a line of Kiss action figures, despite the fact that the ad aired only between 1977 and 1980, several years before his birth," Riley said. "Such mastery is beyond anything we could have ever hoped."

With world television-viewing levels at an all-time high, jingle-recall ability will prove crucial in the economy of the next century.

A third-grade class in Lexington, KY, prepares for the 1997 Jingle Aptitude Test.

"It doesn't look good for competing nations," National Media Institute director Mitchell Forrester said. "In the field of TV jingle recall, which is certain to be of vital importance in the emergent global info-age, America is clearly the world leader."

President Clinton was pleased to learn of the report. "America's teachers can be very proud," he said, "knowing that their students have outdistanced all others in the memorization of such words as, 'Zestfully clean / Zestfully clean / You're not fully clean unless you're Zestfully clean.' Our educators can take great pride in the knowledge that every American child knows something that students from Asia and Europe do not: that their bologna has a first name, and how the name of that bologna is spelled."

American students scored particularly well on jingles connected to television shows. A whopping 98 percent of those tested, for example, were aware that crimefighting cartoon rock star Jem is truly outrageous, and 78 percent knew that the Jem figures are each sold separately.

Even more impressive was U.S. students' awareness of products they do not even use yet. Ninety percent of American seven-year-olds, for example, knew that Gilette is the best a man can get, and that the Anheuser-Busch corporation is proud to be your Bud.

News of the study has prompted some Japanese schools to add intensive TV-jingle drills to their curriculum. A majority of foreign countries, however, plan to continue to focus on fields in which they already excel, such as math and science, rather than attempt to challenge America's clear dominance of the TV jingle-recall field.

"Each nation has academic areas in which it excels, be it math, foreign language or history," Riley said. "When it comes to ad recognition and recall, the U.S. truly is 'the real thing.'"