District Flunks History Study; Virginia and Maryland Pass

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 8, 2003 | Go to article overview
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District Flunks History Study; Virginia and Maryland Pass


Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Just six states earned a grade of A for their schools' U.S. history standards, while 22 and the District received failing marks in a national study commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The District was included among states whose standards were rated "ineffective" and given Fs. Virginia's standards were rated "very good," rating a B grade and tying for 7th place with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma. Maryland ranked 15th with a "fair" rating for a C grade.

States rated "outstanding" and given A grades for having the best standards for teaching history from kindergarten through 12th grade, in order, were: Indiana, New York, and Arizona. California, Alabama and Massachusetts tied for third place.

"This is at least part of the explanation for the many assessments that show young Americans knowing less about history than any other subject," said Chester E. Finn Jr., the Washington-based institute's president.

The "Effective State Standards for U.S. History: A 2003 Report Card" study was conducted by Sheldon M. Stern, recently retired historian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, for the institute.

The Fordham Institute promotes higher academic standards and better teaching. Mr. Finn said he believed this was America's first evaluation of state-by-state U.S. history curriculums.

States that received the highest scores have academic standards requiring comprehensive, balanced lessons that teach history in coherent sequence, the report said. States with poor rankings were said to have historically selective or inadequate standards without fair, balanced context and a coherent and cumulative U.

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