U.S. states earn ‘D’ in history

Most states’ U.S. history standards are “mediocre to awful,” concludes a Fordham Foundation study. Nationwide, the average state got a D. Eighteen states earned F’s.

South Carolina earned an A and Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York and D.C. earned an A-.  So did the U.S. history framework used by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

On Ed Next’s blog, A. Graham Down praises David Awbrey’s A Journalist’s Education in the Classroom, which describes his attempt to teach history to middle school students who thought “any kind of learning, especially history” was “totally irrelevant to their lives.”

. . . despite David Awbrey’s heartfelt and totally admirable championship of the liberal arts, and his best intentions to the contrary, his book is more of a depressant than a source of inspiration.
. . .  David Awbrey’s courage and tenacity should be applauded. His efforts to revitalize traditional history instruction are both imaginative and compelling.

But it’s not one of those books where the nice white lady (or gent) saves the day.

Update: Texas corrected the liberal bias and then introduced a heap of conservative bias, writes Mike Petrilli.

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  1. Why should this surprise anyone, students don’t know how to read, write, do basic math, geography, science, or government.

    The fact that students are mediocre in history should shock no one, except for the taxpayers who have to foot the bill (where can I apply for a refund)?

  2. There’s a current post on Kitchen Table Math about a similar lack of knowledge (really; clueless and oblivious) about current events; “who is this guy Al Quaida ?” from a HS senior and ninth-graders who don’t know who the Vice-President is. What (tiny) percentage of our students have any intellectual curiosity at all?

  3. Geez, they say ignorance is bliss, but this is pathetic (an alleged 12th grader who doesn’t know what Al-Qaeda is)…


  4. I love California’s current history standards. I worry that our adoption of Arne Duncan’s Common Core standards will entail scrapping them.

  5. Tim-10-ber says:

    If it is not tested or measured it won’t be taught. Right? Why is this a surprise…very,very sad the state of most US government education

  6. Montgomery County, MD stopped teaching history in elementary schools many years before NCLB, but now principals and the school board uses the testing as an excuse for not teaching even their pathetic social studies curriculum.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    I recall reading of a study that found college freshmen knew more about civics, amgov, and current events tban did seniors.
    So my presumption of a “knowledgectomy” is correct.
    And these folks are teachers.

  8. It’s an issue of disengagement from a content heavy curriculum which is dispensed on a read and remember platform from incredibly dry textbooks and often uninspired lecturers.