WASHINGTON (TND) — Eighth-grade test scores for history and civics dropped dramatically across the country this year and was the lowest since national education assessments began in 1994.
Parents Defending Education Director of Outreach Erika Sanzi joined The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat Friday morning to discuss the issue.
Some 40% of eighth graders in the U.S. scored below basic standards that were set out by the education department.
Sanzi talks about how alarming the results are.
Well, obviously, this is very troubling. Thirteen percent of eighth graders are considered proficient now in U.S. history. So, I wish I could say that it was really surprising. It's not that surprising," Sanzi said. "We saw really terrible results also with, you know, reading and math. And unfortunately, this decline began in 2014 and has just continued, you know, on a downward trend, and so we have a problem, and that is that our over-focus on math and ELA, which is English Language Arts, so reading and writing, that really meant that other subjects got pushed aside and weren't prioritized. And I think that's part of why we saw these results.
Another big issue Sanzi brought up was teaching content to kids and not teaching skills.
The other big reason is just that there's been an ongoing debate for decades about the importance of teaching content to kids versus teaching them skills and the skills people have been winning, which means that we're just not teaching kids information and facts knowledge because we've gotten you know, bogged down with this philosophy of "oh, well, they can just google it." And I think that's really also what we're seeing in these results.
Additionally, reading scores dropped to 1992 levels, and not a single state saw a notable improvement in average test scores.
ACT scores hit their lowest point in more than 30 years. The composite score was 19.8 out of 30, making it the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20.
The data shows students across the country struggled to keep up during the pandemic whether schools remained opened or closed.