Don’t Know Much About History, Civics, Geography

Test results reveal inequality in civics education



Time for another history lesson.

Only about a quarter of eighth graders showed solid performance or better in U.S. history, civics, and geography on tests known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The 2014 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress released Wednesday were similar to those four years ago when the assessments were last administered. Students did better overall in U.S. history and civics than their peers in the 1990s when the tests were first given, but geography scores have remained stagnant since 1994.

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Among the findings: Less than half — 45% — of eighth-grade respondents were able to correctly interpret time differences using an atlas with time zones. Only about a third knew that “the government of the United States should be a democracy” is a political belief shared by most people in the U.S.

Michelle Herczog, president of the National Council for the Social Studies, said the results “point to a need for immediate action.” Tackling issues like terrorism, human rights, race relations, and poverty require a deep understanding of the historical and geographic context, she said.

“How do we, as a nation, maintain our status in the world if future generations of Americans do not understand our nation’s history, world geography, or civics principles or practices?” Herczog said.

A breakdown of the test and results:

How Students Did:

Only 18% of students demonstrated solid performance or better in U.S. history. The results for geography and civics were slightly better, 27% and 23%, respectively.

A large share of the eighth graders who took the test scored at the “basic” level, meaning just partial mastery of the subjects. Only 1% of test takers in U.S. history, 3% in geography, and 2% in civics scored in the advanced level.

Read more at the New York Times

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