Education Department Reveals Alarming Drop in U.S. History and Civics Scores Among Eighth Graders
The Education Department has released the first federal history and civics testing data since before the COVID pandemic, and the results are concerning. Eighth graders had the lowest U.S. history scores on record in 2022 and among the lowest civics scores. The data shows that the last few years have erased the progress made since the 1990s on eighth grade students’ knowledge of history and civics.
- Only about 13% of eighth graders met proficiency standards for U.S. history last year
- Only 1% of students who took the test were rated as advanced in U.S. history
- Only about one-fifth of students were proficient or better in civics
- Four in ten eighth graders scored below basic in history, while about 31% scored below basic in civics
- Students who were already struggling saw their scores sink significantly, while students who were excelling before the pandemic continued to do well for the most part
History and civics were the two most dismal subjects as far as how many students were proficient, the Education Department data showed. Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told reporters Tuesday that history and civics scores are “woefully low in comparison to other subjects.”
“These data are a national concern. The health of our democracy depends on informed and engaged citizens,” Carr said.
Math and reading scores have also suffered over the pandemic, the Education Department revealed last year. Math scores plummeted among fourth and eighth graders in almost every state, while reading scores have also sunk across the country, erasing the last three decades of progress.
Many students returned to classrooms last year reading at the same level as when the pandemic started, putting them two grade levels behind. A January study suggested that students lost about 35% of a normal school year’s worth of learning, starting when remote learning began.
Learning loss caused by many months of remote learning during the pandemic spurred parents across the country to demand schools return to in-person learning, especially after data showed that children were low-risk for serious cases of COVID. Some parents even ran for school board positions and won, hoping to stop the learning loss in their district.
In Florida, mom and new board member Stephanie Meyer said failing grades and student behavioral problems made her unwilling to send her own children to the same schools she once attended. In Michigan, Tom Payne, a grandfather and new school board president, dubbed the district’s academic performance before he was elected “mediocre at best.”
It’s time to take action and prioritize education to ensure that our children are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to become informed and engaged citizens.
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