Test scores for 8th graders on civics and history declined according to the test known as the Nation’s Report Card or NAEP, released Wednesday.
It was the first time civics scores declined since the framework was established in 1998. History scores also declined by five points, reports Politico.
Just 13% of students were deemed proficient in history and 22% in civics.
The results came from tests administered last year.
Miguel Cardona, Biden’s secretary of education, responded in political fashion, failing to acknowledge the progressive pandemic policies which led to the decline.
“The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading,” he said in a statement. “It tells us that now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding, nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes.”
Likely, Cardona was referring to the effort by conservatives to remove Critical Race Theory (CRT) as well as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) from school districts around the country.
“We need to provide every student with rich opportunities to learn about America’s history and understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of government works,” he continued. “Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction.”
A review of the sample questions in the NAEP shows that a curriculum rich in CRT and SEL, would not have helped children score higher on the nationwide test.
The proficiency scores started declining under President Obama in the 2010s, said Forbes.
One education expert firmly blamed what he called “self-styled civics crusaders” for the low scores, who he says have attempted to inject CRT-related concepts and climate change into curriculum.
“Indeed, as we’ve seen with the New York Times’s 1619 Project or the College Board’s more recent AP African American Studies course, these fights have been started not by conservative legislators but by self-styled civics crusaders seeking to use civics and history as a platform for advancing political agendas,” wrote Frederick Hess at Forbes.
Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
“In a 2022 survey of K-12 teachers, for instance, the RAND Corporation found that more teachers thought civics education is about promoting environmental activism, rather than about ‘knowledge of social, political, and civic institutions,’” Hess also wrote.
The head of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the test, agreed, saying that students lack basic knowledge.
“For U.S. history, I would say that I was also very, very concerned, because it’s a decline that started in 2014 long before we even thought about Covid,” NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr told reporters, according to Politico.
“When you look at what they don’t know – and it’s not just about reading, it’s about content, facts, information about our constitutional system – students don’t know this information,” Carr said. “That is why they’re scoring so low on this assessment.”