U.S. test scores in history and civics plummeting
The previous NAEP exam was taken in 2018, leading authorities to believe that the significant impact on test scores is related to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic
May 6, 2023 10:34am
Updated: May 6, 2023 10:34am
The test scores measuring students’ knowledge of civics and history in national exams declined for the first time since the current testing framework was implemented in 1998.
According to the results of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, 40% of eighth graders showed “below basic” knowledge of history and 69% scored “below basic” in American civics.
The tests, which are administered every four years by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, are meant to offer insights into students’ level of understanding of the nation’s history, government, and democratic processes.
The previous NAEP exam was taken in 2018, leading authorities to believe that the significant impact on test scores is related to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The national decline in scores for math and reading, which were released last fall, was also attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
“It tells us that now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding, nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes,” the secretary added.
History scores have been falling since 2014, from 267 to 258 out of the maximum 500. The decline has been seen across most races and ethnicities and all the themes tested for history—democracy, culture, technology, and world role.
“For U.S. history, I would say that I was also very, very concerned because it’s a decline that started in 2014 long before we even thought about Covid,” NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr told reporters, adding that more social studies lessons are needed in schools throughout the nation.
“Teachers, and practitioners need to get this content in front of students. When you look at what they don’t know, and it’s not just about reading, it’s about content, facts, information about our constitutional system. Students don’t know this information,” Carr said. “That is why they’re scoring so low on this assessment.”