Presidents’ Day 2011 is right around the corner, but George Washington would be dismayed by the findings of this new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Reviewers evaluated state standards for U.S. history in grades K-12. What they found is discouraging: Twenty-eight states–a majority–deserve D or F grades for their academic standards in this key subject. The average grade across all states is a dismal D. Among the few bright spots, South Carolina earns a straight A for its standards and six other jurisdictions–Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia–garner A-minuses. (The National Assessment’s “framework” for U.S. history also fares well.) Read on to learn how your state scored.
Wisconsin’s U.S. history standards, for all practical purposes, do not exist. Their sole content is a list of ten eras in American and Wisconsin history, followed by a few brief and vague directives to understand vast swaths of history and broad historical concepts. Determining an actual course’s scope, sequence, and content rests entirely on the shoulders of local teachers and districts.
Goals and Organization
Wisconsin’s social studies standards are divided among five strands: geography, history, political science and citizenship, economics, and behavioral sciences. Each strand consists of a “content standard”–a one-sentence statement of the strand’s purpose–and a one- paragraph “rationale” justifying its importance. The history strand also includes short lists of ten chronological/thematic eras for Wisconsin, U.S. history, and world history. The ten listed eras of U.S. history are said to apply to grades 5-12, and those for Wisconsin history to grades 4-12.