U.S. History Test Scores Plummet

U.S. History Test Scores Plummet

This downward trend in test scores was accelerated by the pandemic

National test scores were released on May 3, 2023 showing a steep drop in student test scores in U.S. History, and a modest drop in civics. The Department of Education administers these tests to eighth graders every year. About 40 percent of eighth graders scored “below basic” in U.S. History on this most recent test. This is a drop from 34 percent in 2018, and 29 percent in 2014.

Only 13 percent of eighth graders were considered proficient, which is down from 18 percent nearly a decade ago.

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) test includes both simple and complex questions. Scores on the civics portion of the test showed the first decline since the test began being administered in the late 1990s. It’s possible that reduced reading comprehension affected the history test results.

Instructional time for social studies has been declining over recent years, as schools have focused much more on the academic losses in reading and math.

“It doesn’t bode well for the future of this country and for the future of democracy if we don’t start doing more instruction in social studies,” said Kristin Dutcher Mann, a history professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who helps train middle and high school social studies teachers. At one point, she said, older elementary school students in her community received an hour of social studies each day. Now, she said, “they will be lucky if they get 30 minutes for social studies twice a week.”

Source: NY Times

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