The Thomas B. Fordham Institute ranks the 50 states on how they’re teaching history lessons. Missouri fails.
The Fordham Institute says it’s important to note the study guages how history is taught, or what standards are in place, not how students test on the subject.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based, non-profit think tank dedicated to advancing educational excellence in America’s K-12 schools. It states its purpose is to promote policies that strengthen accountability and expand education options for parents and families, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, school choice and teacher quality.
Spokeswoman Kathleen Porter-McGhee says Education Departments in Missouri — and the 28 other states that got Ds or Fs — need to be more precise in what students need to know. She says Missouri students can’t be faulted for what they might or might not be learning.
“Missouri social studies standards, they really focus on themes and concepts to the mere exclusion of substance, of actual content,” she says. “The standards are generally so broad, that from an instructional standpoint, they’re almost useless.” … “Missouri teachers are left with little sense of what they’re expected to teach or learn,” the report states.
For perspectives on the American Revolution, (fifth graders) they are to “explain the American Revolution, including the perspectives of patriots and loyalists and factors that explain why the American colonists were successful”—a neat trick when there is no hint of required content on this subject. Westward expansion is reduced to Texas and the Mexican War, the Oregon territory, and the California gold rush, along with interactions of Native Americans, European immigrants, and “Africans brought to America.”
In in addition to their standards, they provide support documents, she explains, which are like gold to teachers. They’re very specific and detailed that make our history rich and riveting to students, she says, which can really help teachers guide their classes.
Porter McGhee says reactions are mixed — while some states are balking at the report’s findings, others are embracing the recommendations and pushing to upgrade state standards.
The Institute didn’t sugar coat what it found state by state. Educators, bloggers and some others in Texas, for instance, have recommended the state ignore the findings.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute report says “Texas has constructed a bizarre amalgam of traditionally ahistorical social studies—combining the usual inclusive, diversity-driven checklists with a string of politically and religiously motivated historical distortions. It is particularly ironic that the aggressively right-tilting Texas Board of Education embraced the mindset and methodology of social studies, traditionally the tool of a left-leaning educational establishment. The result is the worst of both worlds.”
(Texas still received a D, better than Missouri’s failing grade.)
The national average was a D.