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February 6, 2004

no federal concern for civics?

The NAEP, often called the "Nation's Report Card," is a voluntary, federally-funded assessment of students' progress in a field. Those who support the Civic Mission of Schools agenda favor a big expansion of the NAEP Civics Assessment. We want the Civics NAEP to be given every three years with separate representative samples in as many states as possible. We have argued that this is an important way to hold states--but not individual kids--accountable for civic outcomes. Furthermore, we believe that the NAEP civics assessment is a good instrument.

Now we learn that the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) has commissioned a report on the 12th grade NAEP, which will be received and publicized on March 5. We are told that this report will call for the abolition of all 12th-grade NAEPs other than reading, math, and science. This decision would represent a giant step away from our goal, at least at the federal level. On the other hand, if we can organize to block the change, we may gain some momentum and visibility. I think this is a crucial test.

It's also a reminder of our fundamental goal. NABG is not contemplating the end of the NAEP Civics Assessment because it is a flawed instrument. Rather, they simply do not believe in the importance of schools' civic mission. They are asking all fields other than reading, math, and science to justify themselves. They are putting us all in a position where we will have to compete for survival: civics against history; civics and history against the arts. We would not face this highly unpleasant situation if people believed that schools have a civic mission.

Posted by peterlevine at 9:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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