A more optimistic, and troubling, take on the social studies scores

Stanford University/Hoover Institution Research Fellow Michael Petrilli offers the following perspective on the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress social studies scores (civics, U.S. history, and now geography):

“You wouldn’t know it from the “we’re all going to hell in a hand basket” rhetoric surrounding today’s education debates, but the last fifteen years have seen tremendous progress for poor, minority, and low-achieving students–the very children that have been the focus of two decades of reform. Curiously, both sides of the education battle want to sweep this news under the carpet.”

He continues:
“First the facts. In both the “basic skills” of reading and math, and in the social studies subjects of history, civics, and now geography, African-American, Latino, and low-income fourth- and eighth-graders have posted huge gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) since the early 1990s.”

And the bad news? Everybody else’s scores are either stagnant, or declining. As I mentioned in this morning’s post, the high school scores are especially depressing.

Petrilli ends his article with some penetrating — and troubling — rhetorical questions:
“Poor and minority kids are learning more, but there are also allegations of rampant cheating in some school districts. Is it worth it? Poor and minority kids are learning more, but many of their schools are minimizing free expression, art and music, and a sense of wonder. Is it worth it? Poor and minority kids are learning more, but their teachers are being asked to stick to scripted lessons and lockstep curricular guides. Is it worth it? Poor and minority kids are learning more, but their more affluent, higher-achieving peers are making fewer gains. Is it worth it?”

So what do you think?

Here’s the link: http://educationnext.org/our-schools-secret-success/

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