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8th grade history, civics scores drop during pandemic

This was the first time there's been a decline in the civics assessment, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
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Posted at 4:29 PM, May 03, 2023

America's 8th graders are showing declines in knowledge of U.S history and civics. 

According to test results released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) decreased in both subjects between 2018 and 2022. 

In the U.S. history test, students were quizzed on major themes including events, people, ideas and turning points. 

The national assessment has a maximum score of 500 points. Average test scores declined by five points, from 263 in 2018 to 258 in 2022.

"Few eighth-graders are reaching higher levels of achievement. Only 13 percent of eighth-graders were at or above the NAEP Proficient level for U.S. history," NCES Acting Associate Commissioner Dan McGrath. "That’s the lowest proportion of eighth-grade students reaching that level out of any subject assessed by the NAEP program."

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In civics, students are tested on their knowledge of American government. On a scale of 0-300, eighth graders scored an average of 150 in 2022. That's two points less than the average score in 2018. The NCES says this was the first time it's recorded a decline in the civics assessment. 

The report does not discuss causes of the decline. However, it is notable that test scores declined after the height of the pandemic, when in-person learning was disrupted and students were forced to take remote classes.

"The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading," said Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education.

Cardona also blasted lawmakers for banning books in schools, saying it limits what students learn about the country.

"Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction," he stated. 

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