Even for a nation used to getting some dismal test results, the latest news about how much students in the United States don’t know about history is shocking. What’s worse, it seems that the older these students get, the less they know. Couple this with another report that finds parents revolting against what they think are the unfair burdens of homework, then add the notion that some school boards are ready to cut back there as well, and the path to ignorance is well-marked and very crowded.
The history numbers come from 2010 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It found that only 22 percent of fourth-graders have a solid grasp of American history. By the time they get to eighth grade, the number drops to 18 percent. And of those who make it to their senior year in high school, only 13 percent perform adequately.
Now, consider another trend. schools across the country are heeding warnings from parents that students are stressed by too much homework, so they are cutting back. Some schools ban homework over weekends or vacations. Some have put limits on the amount of time any teacher can assign, varying by subject matter and grade.
Schools and boards can resist this self-destructive urge to keep students from learning. But they and the teachers who care will need the support of parents.
The Middletown Times Herald-Record (June 23)