The Nation???s Report Card: Civics 2010


Nation's Report Card: CIvics 2010 coverThe woeful proficiency rates of American
students on the most recent NAEP Civics assessment (released yesterday) are
even more jarring in the context of this week’s events. The nation’s report
card assessed some 26,000 fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students; across
all grades, about one quarter of pupils scored proficient, and 2 percent
advanced. Alarming—though not terribly different from NAEP results in other
subjects. So what do these numbers signify? At the fourth-grade level, it means
that barely one quarter of students could identify a function of the military
and only 2 percent could offer up two rights of American citizens. The 76 percent
of twelfth-grade students who failed to score proficient could not, for
example, define the term “melting pot” or explain whether or not it applied to
the U.S. And only one percent of eighth graders could recognize a role
performed by the Supreme Court. Still, there is some positive news to report. Notably, since 1998, the
white-Hispanic and black-white achievement gaps have narrowed, while all
sub-group scores have risen. But on the whole, the picture is bleak, especially
for our twelfth grade students—the very people who will be eligible to vote in
next year’s elections.

Center for Education Statistics, “The Nation’s
Report Card: Civics 2010
,” (Washington,
D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, May 4, 2011).