History, civics and reading comprehension go together
The more students know about the world, the better they can understand what they read, writes Susan Pimentel in Education Week. The better they read, the more they can build additional knowledge.
To raise "shockingly low" history and civics scores, she writes, "we need to include more civics and history in literacy lessons and add more deliberate literacy instruction in civics and history."
When she trains teachers, they tell her students can't read their social studies (and other) textbooks. They're too complex. So teachers lecture and show slides. It's boring.
It's likely that one reason National Assessment for Education Progress scores are falling in history and civics is that students can't read well enough to understand the questions.