NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

2001 U.S. History Report Card

May 10, 2002

The Department of Education warns that high school seniors produced "truly abysmal scores" on the 2001 U.S. History Report Card -- and their knowledge of the subject hasn't improved in nearly seven years. The federally-mandated test was administered to 29,000 fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders at 1,100 public and private schools.

  • On the test, 57 percent of seniors could not perform even at the basic level -- which is defined as "the bottom of the achievement ladder."
  • Thirty-two percent performed at the basic level; only 10 percent performed grade-level work, and just 1 percent were rated advanced or superior.
  • Fourth- and eighth-grade students outperformed seniors, but not by much, department officials said.

Education Department statistics show 54 percent of junior and senior high school students in 1996 were taught history by teachers who neither majored nor minored in the subject -- and a new report soon to be released shows similar results.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Kids Get 'Abysmal' Grade in History," USA Today, May 10, 2002.

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