American Students Get A Failing Grade On History

Our public schools are failing us, though it goes beyond that. We are failing our children.

The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America’s role in the world.

Only 20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were “proficient” or “advanced,” unchanged since the test was last administered in 2006. Proficient means students have a solid understanding of the material.

The news was even more dire in high school, where 12% of 12th-graders were proficient, unchanged since 2006. More than half of all seniors posted scores at the lowest achievement level, “below basic.” While the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders have seen a slight uptick in scores since the exam was first administered in 1994, 12th-graders haven’t.

It’s fashionable to blame the government monopoly on schools, and the death grip teachers unions have on that monopoly, for all our education woes. But when it comes to the basics of our society, the American revolution and the resulting representative government, those lessons ought to start at home.

Our education policy in this country is bad, no doubt, but it’s clearly not just the teachers and the bureaucrats who are failing our kids. Children who grow up ignorant of our country’s past become voters who cast their ballots for bread and circuses.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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