Poor Civics and History Scores Are a National Wake-Up Call
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 3, 2023 – Following the release of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for eighth grade history and civics on Wednesday, leaders of a national civic educator network expressed their deep concern about the findings.
According to Hans Zeiger, president of the Jack Miller Center, a nationwide network of scholars and teachers who are concerned with education in history and civics, “This is about more than disappointing test scores. This is about our failure to prepare the next generation with the core knowledge of America’s constitution and history that are essential to self-government in a free society. Let this be a wake-up call to all Americans: we can no longer afford to neglect the teaching of citizenship.”
The NAEP assesses eighth graders for history and civics every four years, and the latest NAEP scores represent the results of an eighth-grade assessment conducted in 2022. Civics scores fell for the first time since the civics assessment was first conducted in 1998, and history scores have been on the decline since 2014.
“All of us can do our part to reverse this decline,” said Zeiger. “Teachers and parents, as well as state legislators, school board members, nonprofit and business leaders, scholars, philanthropists, and volunteers are needed in the movement to prioritize history and civics in American education.”
Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, professor of politics, co-director of Christopher Newport University’s Center for American Studies, and Jack Miller Center board member, said, “It would be a mistake to write off these scores merely as a consequence of the COVID years. Civic and cultural literacy has been in decline for too long. Our failure to teach the foundational ideas of our nation is largely to blame for the bitter divisiveness of our political culture.”
According to Tom Kelly, Vice President for Civics Initiatives at the Jack Miller Center, “We’re a deeply polarized nation. U.S. history and civics—indeed the very foundations of our civic and political life—have perhaps never been harder to teach. If we do not find ways to help our nation’s educators pass on our tradition of self-government, we will lose it.
“Looking at a decade-long slide in knowledge of American history and civics, it’s clear that teachers need more support in the classroom.”
In the fall of 2022, the Jack Miller Center commissioned a poll to hear what parents think about the civic education their child is receiving. Across all political and racial backgrounds, parents surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that civic education should focusing on our founding documents and ideas. However, they also agree that the education their child is receiving is not meeting expectations. More information on the poll findings are available on the Jack Miller Center website.
Through its network of more than 1,000 scholars in the fields of American history and political thought, the Jack Miller Center provides professional development for social studies teachers and builds innovative partnerships between higher education institutions and the K-12 teaching force. More information on the Jack Miller Center is available at www.jackmillercenter.org.
Contact: Michael Lucchese
About the Jack Miller Center
The Jack Miller Center is a nationwide network of scholars and civics teachers committed to educating the next generation about the foundational texts and ideas of the American political tradition.
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