Assessment News in Brief

Nation’s 8th Graders Flatline on NAEP in Social Studies Subjects

By Jessica Brown — May 05, 2015 1 min read

The nation’s 8th graders have made no improvement in their knowledge of U.S. history, geography, or civics since 2010, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress released last week.

Fewer than one-third of students scored “proficient” or better on any of the tests, and only 3 percent or fewer scored at the “advanced” level in any of the three subjects.

The tests were administered between January and March 2014 to a nationally representative sample of 29,000 8th graders at more than 1,300 schools across the country. Students were last tested in the subjects in 2010.

The results raised concern among some experts about their implications for the future of the United states and its place in the world. Some experts believe social studies education has become an afterthought, taking a back seat to more talked-about subjects such as mathematics, English, and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

One bright spot was the improvement in Hispanic students’ performance. More Hispanic students are taking the test, and the group has made gains in U.S. history and geography since 2010. Their scores were flat in civics. White students’ scores improved in U.S. history and civics and remained unchanged in geography. The scores of black and Asian/Pacific Islander students remained flat in all categories.

Although Hispanic students’ scores improved, achievement gaps still exist between white students and black or Hispanic students.

A version of this article appeared in the May 06, 2015 edition of Education Week as Nation’s 8th Graders Flatline on NAEP in Social Studies Subjects

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