American Students Don’t Know Much About History
Posted on Jun 14, 2011
American students in elementary, middle and high schools are bombing their history lessons, with only 12 percent of high school seniors performing at a satisfactory level on a nationwide test and 2 percent being able to correctly answer a question regarding Brown v. Board of Education.
Critics say the poor test results are a product of inadequately designed state and federal education policy, especially the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which gave teachers incentives to devote time to subjects such as math and reading and neglect history. —ARK
The New York Times:
American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.
Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Federal officials said they were encouraged by a slight increase in eighth-grade scores since the last administration of the history test, in 2006. But even those gains offered little to celebrate, because, for example, fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a “seemingly easy question” asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution, the government’s statement on the results said.
Diane Ravitch, an education historian who was invited by the national assessment’s governing board to review the results, said she was particularly disturbed by the fact that only 2 percent of 12th graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education, which she called “very likely the most important decision” of the United States Supreme Court in the past seven decades.
Flickr / quinn.anya
The Roman god Janus, facing both the future and the past, is an exemplar of the meaningful study of history.