Debate Magazine

U.S. Kids Flunk Another History Exam

By Stevemiranda

There was a great story on NPR today about one of my favorite topics. Every so often, a study is released by some organization that illustrates how school poorly children are doing at learning academic material. There is typically shock and indignation, then a pledge from a high-ranking government official to rededicate ourselves to improving our schools.

This week the New York Times reported that, on an exam called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, most of the nation flunked the history section: “Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam.”

Recently, American students placed in the middle of the pack of an international exam called the Program for International Student Assessment. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it “a wake up call.”

From the NPR story:

“What they didn’t seem to realize was we’ve never been first in the world in math and science,” says education historian Diane Ravitch. Since the ’70s, the U.S. has typically placed in the bottom quartile in worldwide math and science rankings.

“We have the biggest economy in the world, the most productive workers, the most inventors, the most patents, the greatest universities. How could all of this success have come from kids who were in the bottom quartile in the international assessments?” Ravitch asks. “It suggests to me that there’s no connection.”

Of course there is no connection. The things we require students to do and learn in school have very little correlation with what happens after they leave school. That’s not new information, nor is it a big secret. When I taught in a big traditional school, I would hear countless parents over the years tell their kids, “Look, school is game. You have to play the game.”

* * *

Here’s a test question to ponder:

I)   What is the most important thing for students to know about history upon graduation?

  1. the name of the president during the War of 1812
  2. the significance of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930
  3. the name of the battle that turned the tide of the Civil War
  4. that learning about history can be both interesting and useful

We spend a disproportionate amount time, effort, and money focusing on answers 1, 2, and 3, which undermines our ability to help students see the value of answer 4. That’s why focusing on improving students’ test scores in history is the wrong goal.

The results of these tests are not a “wake-up call.” We don’t need to improve our schools. We don’t need to get better at doing the wrong thing. We need to re-invent schools with a focus on a different set of priorities.

(Join the discussion at www.facebook.com/reeducate. Get updates at www.twitter.com/reeducate.)


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Five Things I Loved About My Wedding – Kayleigh

    Five Things Loved About Wedding Kayleigh

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts with a focus on those little things that make a wedding special. It is called Five Things I Loved About My Wedding. Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Wedincentralpark
    LIFESTYLE, WEDDING
  • Democracy and the Politics of Intolerance

    Democracy Politics Intolerance

    A democracy allows government to reflect the will of the people. Or does it? Here I would like to understand a bit better the dynamics through which radical... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Dlittle30
    SOCIETY
  • Cable Girls – 1920s Era Women with a Modern Twist

    Cable Girls 1920s Women with Modern Twist

    Las Chicas del Cable – four women in 1920s Madrid – Cloche hats, colorful flapper frocks and bobbed hair. What’s not to enjoy about the new Netflix produced... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Glamourdaze
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • BADASS Art Journal Page - All of Me....

    BADASS Journal Page Me....

    Embracing all parts of me and surrounded by miracles - Art Journal PageI found a couple of passports photos of myself recently and I was criticizing them becaus... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Realityarts
    CREATIVITY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Dutch Apple Loaf

    Dutch Apple Loaf

    This Dutch Apple Loaf is my kind of cake, soft and moist,  and filled with juicy chunks of apple and pecan nuts.  For a lovely hint of sweetness I have... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Shadesofcinnamon
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • A Jumbo Passion Project

    The climber, facing away from the wall, gingerly peers over his toes to watch his sky-blue T-shirt flutter to the ground. He takes a deep breath, then turns in... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Thervproject
    OUTDOORS
  • Top 3 Dim Sum Restaurants in Chinatown

    Restaurants Chinatown

    Chicago’s Chinatown is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Sundays can be especially crowded in this area, usually around brunch, as dim sum, a... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Urbanmatter Chicago
    TRAVEL