Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Assessment

Wash. State to Require District Tests in Social Studies

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — November 29, 2005 2 min read

Washington state officials are beginning to distribute model assessments to help districts meet a new mandate for gauging what students know and are able to do in social studies, at a time when other states are abandoning tests in the subject.

As part of the rollout, state education officials have recommended the Facing the Future, National History Day, and We the People programs as frameworks for evaluating students in history and social studies.

Beginning in 2008, all the state’s 296 districts must have classroom-based tests to show how well students have mastered state standards in social studies and to report the results. They will also be required to have such tests in the arts and in health and fitness.

The three approved national history programs require students to show what they’ve learned. The National History Day and We the People programs hold annual local, state, and national competitions in which students present research on a history topic or are quizzed on their knowledge of historical documents. Facing the Future includes a global-studies curriculum and aligned review lessons and assessments.

Under the History Day framework, for example, students “learn how to define a historical question, locate source material, analyze information, and present it in a scholarly manner” in research papers, documentaries, oral presentations, and re-enactments.

The mandate is part of broad legislation passed last year amending the state’s assessment system. It requires, among other measures, classroom-based evaluations of what students have learned “to assure continued support and attention to the essential academic-learning requirements in social studies, the arts, and health and fitness in elementary, middle, and high schools.”

‘A Creative Approach’

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states must, as of this school year, test students in mathematics and reading annually in grades 3-8 and once during high school.Beginning in 2007, states must also test in science. Although history, geography, economics, civics, and government are considered core subjects under the federal law, states are not required to test students in them.

South Carolina officials are also phasing in a state social studies test this school year, the results of which will be included in school report cards.

Several states, including Illinois, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, have abandoned their social studies tests since the legislation became law almost four years ago. As schools devote more time to subjects that are tested and reported under the federal law, some educators have raised concerns that history and social studies, as well as other untested subjects, are being marginalized in the curriculum.

“There has been a move away from testing social studies,” said Susan Griffin, the executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies, in Silver Spring, Md. Washington state’s focus on classroom tests, as opposed to adding another standardized test to the annual schedule, is practical, she said.

“It’s really meant to be the best type of authentic assessment of students’ work,” said Caleb Perkins, the program supervisor for social studies and international education for Washington state’s office of public instruction. “We were looking for another way to assess these areas rather than doing another standardized test.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
Larkspur, California
Tamalpais Union High School District
Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13

Read Next

Assessment SAT Scraps Optional Essay and Subject Tests
The College Board said it will eliminate the optional essay from the SAT and do away with subject tests.
1 min read
A student leaves after taking the SAT at Upper Arlington High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio on March 12, 2005. The College Board said Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, it will eliminate the optional essay from the SAT and do away with subject tests amid a changing college admissions landscape.
A student leaves after taking the SAT at Upper Arlington High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio on March 12, 2005. The College Board said Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, it will eliminate the optional essay from the SAT and do away with subject tests amid a changing college admissions landscape.
Paul Vernon/AP
Assessment Opinion To Keep Primary Students Learning and Growing, Start With Data
A district’s dedication to gathering and analyzing data provides stability in uncertain times.
Janice Pavelonis
5 min read
Image shows a speech bubble divided into 4 overlapping, connecting parts.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty and Laura Baker/Education Week
Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment 2021
In this Spotlight, dive into best assessment practices
and more.
Assessment Opinion Testing Students This Spring Would Be a Mistake
High-stakes tests would tell us very little we can't know in other ways, writes a longtime assessment researcher.
Lorrie A. Shepard
5 min read
Illustration of students in virus environment facing wave of test sheets.
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (Images: iStock/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty)