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ERIC Number: ED526948
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Aug
Pages: 88
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 76
Teaching American History Evaluation: Final Report
Weinstock, Phyllis; Tseng, Fannie; Humphrey, Daniel; Gillespie, Marilyn; Yee, Kaily
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education
In 2001, Congress established the Teaching American History (TAH) program, which seeks to improve student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history as a separate subject within the core curriculum. Under this program, grants are awarded to local education agencies (LEAs), which are required to partner with one or more institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, libraries, or museums. Grant funds are used to design, implement, and demonstrate innovative, cohesive models of professional development. In addition, grantees have been required to conduct project-level evaluations and have been encouraged to provide evidence of gains in student achievement and teacher content knowledge. The U.S. Department of Education ("the Department") has awarded TAH grants annually since 2001, building to a cumulative total of approximately 1,000 TAH grants worth over $900 million. Grantees have included school districts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The current TAH study, which began in 2007, focuses on the 2004, 2005, and 2006 grantee cohorts, a total of 375 grantees. This study, conducted by Berkeley Policy Associates and SRI International, addresses the following questions: (1) Is it feasible to use states' student assessment data to conduct an analysis of TAH effects on student achievement?; (2) What is the quality of TAH grantee evaluations?; and (3) What are strengths of TAH grantees' program designs and implementation? The Teaching American History program has allowed for productive collaborations between the K-12 educational system and historians at universities, museums, and other key history-related organizations. Respondents at 16 case study sites consistently reported that history teachers, who generally are offered fewer professional development opportunities than teachers in other core subjects, have deepened their understanding of American history through the TAH grants. Overall, participants lauded the high quality of the professional development and reported that it had a positive impact on the quality of their teaching. Teachers reported that they have increased their use of primary sources in the classroom and developed improved lesson plans that have engaged students in historical inquiry. Extant data available for rigorous analyses of TAH outcomes are limited. TAH effects on student achievement and teacher knowledge could not be estimated for this study. Grantee evaluations that were reviewed lacked rigorous designs, and could not support a meta-analysis to assess the impact of TAH on student achievement or teacher knowledge. However, many of the project-based assessments under development by grant evaluators show potential and could be adapted for more widespread use. Given the limitations of state assessments in American history, these project-developed measures are worthy of further exploration and support. Case study research did not find associations between TAH practices and outcomes but found key areas in which TAH program practices aligned with principles of quality professional development. The case studies found grantees to be implementing promising professional development programs that built on multifaceted partnerships, balanced history content with pedagogy, and fostered teacher networks and learning communities. In addition, some grantees and their evaluators were developing promising approaches to teacher and student assessment in American history. However, the case studies also found that Teaching American History grants often lacked active support from district or school administrators and were not well integrated at the school level. Grantees struggled to recruit a diverse range of teachers, particularly less experienced history teachers and those most in need of support. Overall, the findings of this evaluation suggest a need for increased guidance for TAH grantee evaluations, teacher recruitment, and integration of the grants into ongoing school or district priorities. Appended are: (1) Case Study Site Selection and Site Characteristics; and (2) Evaluation Review Additional Technical Notes and Exhibits. (Contains 6 exhibits and 11 footnotes.)
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education. Available from: ED Pubs. Education Publications Center, US Department of Education, NTIS, P.O. Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304. Tel: 877-433-7827; Fax: 703-605-6794; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (ED), Policy and Program Studies Service
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Puerto Rico