ERIC Number: ED481840
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2003
Effective State Standards for U.S. History: A 2003 Report Card.
Stern, Sheldon M.
This study reviewed and rated state academic standards for U.S. history. The researcher set three broad criteria for the review (1) comprehensive historical content; (2) sequential development; and (3) balance. The most recent standards bearing on U.S. history, even if termed "social studies," were reviewed. An essential element was that state history standards must acknowledge the key issues and events that comprise the whole U.S. story, including both inspiring and terrible events. Overall, state standards for U.S. history are not adequate. Eleven states earned honors ratings, and six of these did an "outstanding" job with U.S. history. Seven states got "Cs," but 31 states had not done even a minimally satisfactory job. No clear trends are evident. Neighboring states can score at opposite ends of the scale. A few general conclusions can be drawn about what makes a good set of standards. They have a biographical dimension, with a clear chronology and coherent sequence beginning in the early grades. They revisit topics covered in early grades in a more thorough and sophisticated way in later grades. They acknowledge the European origins of the United States while recognizing the contributions of non-Western people. History standards should discuss the origins and development of democratic ideas and institutions and give political history equal status with social and cultural history. They should be comprehensive and balanced, free of overt or covert ideological agendas. The weakest standards are shackled by "social studies" assumptions that pretend that chronology doesn't matter. An evaluation is presented for the standards of each state. An appendix contains six summary tables that list the states alphabetically and by state rank. (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Washington, DC.
Note: With Michael Chesson, Mary Beth Klee, and Luther Spoehr.