Ohio has decided to drop its social studies tests in grades 5 and 8 in order to save money. The State of Ohio Education blog comments:
It must be okay to eliminate these tests because Ohio students have generally mastered social studies content. Wait a minute. That’s not right. Ohio test results from grades five and eight social studies assessments are among the lowest of the more than two dozen state achievement indicators.
I guess Ohio found an effective (and cost efficient) way to address unacceptably low student achievement and eliminate the achievement gap: stopping administering tests.
One reader, Paula, responds:
For a point of reference, what is the legal definition (in Ohio) of the term “social studies”? I’ve always had an aversion to the term, much preferring that we focus on history. The Wikipedia definition, (which they apparently lifted from the National Council for the Social Studies) defines it as:
At the elementary school level, social studies generally focuses first on the local community and family. By middle and high school, the social studies curriculum becomes more discipline-based and content-specific. It includes various fields which involve past and current human behavior and interactions, such as sociology, history, political science, economics, religion, geography, and anthropology.
If that’s what HB1 is giving the axe to, I say go for it. If they’re truly eliminating some meaningful HISTORY standards, that might be a different story.
If children were actually learning history and being tested on their historical knowledge, then Ohio’s move does signal a loss. Is it optimistic to see if that way? If so, Jamie Davies O’Leary at Flypaper numbers among the optimists:
While the trimming down of standardized tests has everything to do with the budget crisis facing Ohio, we can’t help but wonder not only when the state will decide to reinstall the tests, but whether our students are being equipped to understand the historical magnitude and economical underpinnings of the recession-the alleged reason the tests were removed in the first place.
Like Paula, I vastly prefer history to social studies, but unlike her, I do not say good riddance to the tests. Whether or not students have been learning much history or civics in social studies, the elimination of the tests most likely means they will be learning less.