Assessments in Social Studies

It wasn’t until I started pulling OAA testing data that I realized there wasn’t data for an 8th grade social studies test. In fact, there wasn’t data for 8th grade or 5th grade social studies tests for the last four years. To make sure I wasn’t missing something, I did some Google searching. I thought, there HAD to be a test; it’s social studies, a core subject! One of the major four!

Lo and behold, no tests. And the reason there haven’t been any tests? Funding issues.

I was surprised, saddened, and somewhat offended for those social studies teachers. It’s social studies, a viable subject, but the lack of a test makes it seem much less viable! Give that subject a test!

Looking forward, we know American History and Government at the high school level will have an end of course exam, but that’s all we know for a fact. Current legislation puts the elementary and middle school tests in 5th and 8th grade, but recent discussions have focused on moving those tests to 4th and 6th grade. Even more recently, discussions have centered around doing away with both the elementary and middle school tests altogether–squeezing those high school teachers who do have end of course exams and forcing them to make typically data-based decisions (like providing intervention) on no previous assessment data.

And remember, if it isn’t tested, it isn’t (unfortunately) taught.

Beyond the testing issues, there is currently no requirement in the high school social studies for any world knowledge (history, geography, etc.) unless it is required at the local level. Districts are only required by law to provide one 1/2 credit of American History and one 1/2 credit of government, but students must have 3 total credits of history coursework to graduate (typically 1 world, 1 American, 1/2 Gov, 1/2 Econ).

We cannot argue that we are preparing our children for the world of tomorrow if we are not preparing them for the world. Studies of history give our children the background and foundations for making future decisions–would we want a leader deciding whether or not to send our country to war without any previous knowledge about historical wars and civilizations?

I would encourage you to visit the Ohio Council for the Social Studies website for more information and advocacy efforts.

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