News outlets are reporting that U.S. children continue to perform poorly on standardized history tests. In fact American students are less proficient in history than in any other subject, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In the 2010 exam only 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors scored at a proficient level.
I'll leave the hand-wringing to the experts. But I challenge blog readers to answer the sample questions from the NAEP history test. You can choose items from the Grade 4, Grade 8 and Grade 12 level exams. Here's one from Grade 12 that Californians will appreciate:
Question 3 of 5
American social development has been continually
beginning over again on the frontier. The expansion westward with its
new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive
society, furnishes the forces dominating the American character. The
true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic
coast, it is the Great West.
- Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893
Turner made his speech about the importance of the American frontier partly in response to
A. the closing of the frontier recorded in the 1890 census
B. United States efforts to limit European immigration to frontier regions
C. the elimination of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment
D. the great numbers of western pioneers who lost their farms
The answer is A. (See Turner's complete essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History.")