Learning about Our World and Our Past: Using the Tools and Resources of Geography and U.S. History : a Report of the 1994 NAEP Assessment

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This report summarizes results from the 1994 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), specifically those results concerning geography and U. S. history. The 1994 NAEP asked 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students a series of questions designed to assess their knowledge level and skills applications in specific subjects. This report provides an in-depth look at the type of tasks that made up the assessments in geography and U. S. history and how the students performed on those tasks. It makes extensive use of examples of student work and of exercise-level statistics in examining performance in different skills areas and on particular assessment exercises. Specific attention is given to the ways that students use the tools and resources of history and geography. The questions reflected the content and cognitive dimensions deemed essential for an understanding of these subjects. One content dimension included four themes: change and continuity in U.S. democracy: ideas, institutions, practices, and controversies; the gathering and interaction of peoples, cultures, and ideas; economic and technological changes and their relation to society, ideas, and the environment; and the changing role of the United States in the world. A second content dimension covers eight time periods: Three Worlds and Their Meeting in the Americas (beginnings to 1607); Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607 to 1763); The Revolution and the New Nation (1763 to 1815); Expansion and Reform (1801 to 1861); Crisis of the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 to 1877); Development of Modern America (1865 to 1920); Modern America and the World Wars (1914 to 1945); and Contemporary America (1945 to present). At every grade, the overall geography performance of males was higher than that of females; however, in U.S. history overall performances for males and females was significantly different at 12th grade only where males slightly outperformed females. In both subject areas, the performance of White students was higher than that of Black or Hispanic students. (MJP)

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