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NAEP Faces Budget Ax: Social Studies Exams to Be Scaled Back

Talk about a teachable moment in civics class. NAEP, a.k.a. "the nation's report card," for civics, history, and geography is being scaled back as a result of budget cuts required through sequestration, as my colleague Alyson Klein reports over at Politics K-12.

The result is that only 8th graders will take the exam for the time being.

The executive committee of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, voted recently to indefinitely postpone the 4th and 12th grade tests, Alyson explains. The exams are next scheduled for 2014.

The action by NAGB came in response to a recommendation from the National Center for Education Statistics. NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley told Alyson the action was not because of any lack of interest in social studies. It was simply "trying to make the best decision from a bad set of options."

The last round of NAEP results for social studies came out in 2011, and it was not exactly encouraging. Fewer than one-third of students reached the "proficient" level in any of the subjects. In civics, for example, just 24 percent of students scored proficient or above. The figure was 22 percent for 8th grade, and 27 percent for 4th.

So, all you civics teachers out there, here's your chance to take this up with students. What is sequestration? How did it come about? What can Congress and the White House do to resolve the situation? And, will the NAEP for social studies, at least for 4th and 12th graders, eventually become a topic you only hear about in history books? Discuss!

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