imageThe Boston Herald had an editorial this morning citing the shocking ignorance of our nation’s kids when it comes to knowing about our history.  They write:

Only 20 percent of fourth graders and 17 percent of eighth graders who took the test scored in the “proficient” or “advanced” categories. And the high school picture is worse — more than half the seniors tested have a “below basic” grasp of history.

Supporters of social sciences education blame federal and state education standards for shortchanging history, and certainly in Massachusetts we’re doing nothing to dispel that notion.

Two years ago state policy makers voted to “postpone” implementation of a history MCAS requirement for high school graduation, citing budget constraints. Since then Massachusetts has signed on to adopt national curriculum standards that could weaken the emphasis on history even further. The Patrick administration, meanwhile, continues to give every signal that a history MCAS graduation requirement is never to be. (emphasis mine)

Massachusetts has been lauded as a model for education reform, yet they and many other states are adopting one-size fits all common core standards which serves to weaken our education system, not improve it.  States like Iowa has been told that their Core Curriculum has flunked history as well, do we really believe national standards will help Iowa or any other state? Unfortunately the educrats in the Beltway and states clamoring for money seem to think so, but they lack data or anecdotal evidence back that belief up.  The more distance curriculum and standards development has from parents, community leaders, and local school boards the worse our students have performed.  History bears that out.

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  1. Not sure why the stats have dropped since I was a kid. I do wonder if the drop is more about the changes in our culture than anything. These days both parents (if there are two) usually work and kids in general don’t get as much attention. And I am not sure about the effects of larger class sizes have impacted things. I suspect that there is not one silver bullet to make things better.

      1. Could be Shane. I took my kids out of a Christian school (talk about indoctrination) and found that my kids got a great education in the public school system – of course not all Christian or public schools are the same. My son went on to graduate from a Christian university and my daughter is back in college pursuing her degree. 

        Hey, I just spent a good part of my day in Iowa (I-80 & I-35) coming back home from Chicago. The drive was so much better than the way we traveled there (I-70 & I-55) four weeks ago. Iowa is a much prettier drive than Illinois, gas prices are less and traffic is SO much better.

        Hope your weekend is going great!

  2. As a history teacher in California, one question I had was how close the test is to what is being taught at different grade levels.  One report I read lamented that 8th graders didn’t know much about Hitler and WWII.  However, California students cover US history, precolonial to French & Indian War in 5th grade, Revolution to Progressive Era in 8th grade, and don’t study WWI to the present until 10th grade world history or 11th grade US history.  I will agree that what they know (and don’t know) is abysmal, but testing them on what isn’t even in the curriculum is pointless.  It is one more example of how decisions get worse the farther the decision-makers get from the local classroom.

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