Yesterday, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) released the Nation’s Report Card: Geography 2010, the last of the social studies “triumvirate.” We’ve blogged on the others (history and civics). And, unfortunately, we’re bound to repeat past analysis: Scores are flat, again.
Only a quarter of students performed at the Proficient level on the assessment. And only a small percentage — 2 percent of 4th graders, 3% of 8thgraders, and 1% of 12th graders — achieved an Advanced designation. The math is simple: Most students are scoring at Basic or below, an “F” as we see it.
NAEP tests students’ knowledge of space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections. As David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board said, “Geography … is a rich and varied discipline that, now more than ever, is vital to understanding the connections between our global economy, environment and diverse cultures.” Students require more than the cursory knowledge of geography present in most curricula to understand history and civics in context.
Can we expect future improvement? Our guess is no — not as, in the words of a Penn State geography professor, “geography’s role in the curriculum [remains] limited and, at best, static.”
Update: While scores have remained flat overall, poor and minority kids have made gains on NAEP. Fordham’s, Mike Petrilli has an interesting take on the gains, and their cost, here.