Social Studies

Don’t Know Much About History...

By Mary Ann Zehr — December 18, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Policymakers need to raise the level of history instruction in U.S. schools by making state certification requirements for teachers of history more stringent, argues a report released today by the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. For example, secondary-school history teachers should be required to have majored in history, the report says.

The report also recommends that the National Assessment of Educational Progress test history knowledge every other year, rather than every five years or so, as is the case now. Such a change, it argues, would help to promote awareness of the subject.

The report praises the Teaching American History Grant Program, adopted by Congress in 2001, in its support for history knowledge.

The report cites various reports that have indicated that U.S. students and adult Americans don’t know much about history. It cites a study commissioned by the American Revolution Center, which my colleague Sean Cavanagh blogged about, that showed Americans overestimate their knowledge of the American Revolution. Only a little more than half of participants in the study could identify James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.