ERIC Number: EJ770987
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun-22
Reference Count: N/A
Those Who Do Not Learn History...
Rabb, Theodore K.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n42 pB2 Jun 2007
Last month the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the federally financed "Nation's Report Card," released the results of its 2006 tests of historical knowledge among schoolchildren. Although there were hints of small improvements since the last NAEP test in 2001 (47 percent rather than 43 percent of 12th graders had at least a "basic" knowledge of U.S. history), the findings were still little short of appalling. Because the report appeared amid plans to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, whose focus on reading and mathematics has been blamed for cutbacks in other subjects, like history, the suggestion of even slight gains had predictable effects. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings enthused that the law was not narrowing the curriculum. But in reality, there is no doubt that the curriculum is narrowing. The federal government finances the Teaching American History program, which has stimulated major improvements in the qualifications of history teachers, but the eroding class hours give them less and less opportunity to use their skills. How, then, can the NAEP scores give encouragement? This may not be the most important instance of America's preferring illusion to reality in recent years, but its implications are serious. Americans are putting the teaching of history into ever narrower straitjackets, and spinning test results that demonstrate profound ignorance into symptoms of a brighter future.
Descriptors: National Competency Tests, United States History, History Instruction, Test Results, Federal Legislation, Educational Legislation, Federal Government, Elementary Secondary Education
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 12; Grade 4; Grade 8; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001