WASHINGTON—According to a study released Tuesday by the Department of Education, a majority of American high school graduates are critically unprepared for the rigors of high school, lacking the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the basic academic requirements of secondary education.

“Upon graduation from high school, most American students are simply not ready to enter a ninth-grade classroom,” said Deputy Education Secretary Anthony Miller, noting that tens of thousands of 18-year-olds now completing their compulsory public educations “would have no idea what was going on” if they were to take even one high-school-level course in English, algebra, or physical science. “Across all subjects, our findings indicate that very few graduating seniors have developed the proficiencies needed to succeed in high school.”

“We’re handing out diplomas to a whole generation of students who are completely unequipped to handle the four years of education they just finished,” he added.

Miller told reporters that in terms of core academics, almost no recent graduates had acquired the fundamental competencies one must possess to successfully maintain a full high school course load. He suggested that while some might be able to manage one or two high school classes, or perhaps a full-time middle school schedule, in most cases anything more would be “pushing it.”

In addition, Miller stated that the class of 2014’s standardized test scores and measures of writing ability clearly indicated that the vast majority were still “years away” from being able to endure the rigors of a high school education.

“When you talk to teachers, they all seem to agree on one thing: High school is a challenge today’s high school grads just aren’t up to,” department spokesperson Mike Immelman said. “They’re reading on a level that falls far short of what the curriculum mandates, and their understanding of math and science is riddled with enormous gaps that would need to be filled before they could begin to contend with grades nine through 12.”

“If we want our nation to be competitive in the 21st-century global marketplace, we must invest enough resources to ensure our high school graduates can hack it in high school,” Immelman continued. “Frankly, it’s a good thing these grads aren’t in high school anymore, because in all honesty, they wouldn’t be able to cope with it.”

The study went on to stress that students should not be faulted for their situation, as most of the blame lies with high school teachers and parents who are largely unqualified for teaching and parenthood.