This month the National Center for Education Statistics released their Civics 2010 Report Card, one in a series of educational reports that surveys primary school students. The report cards cover a variety of subjects including reading, mathematics, science, writing, and U.S. history. The purpose, in addition to giving researchers a wealth of data, is to chart the changes in knowledge in all of these subject areas.
Fourth-graders, eighth-graders, and twelfth-graders participated by responding to questions designed to measure the civics knowledge and skills that are critical to the responsibilities of citizenship in America’s constitutional democracy. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to results from two previous assessment years shows how students’ knowledge and skills in civics have progressed over time.
Here are some of the findings:
- Average scores were higher in 2010 than in 1998 for fourth-graders in all racial/ethnic groups with samples large enough to report results. The percentages of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students performing below the Basic level decreased from 1998 to 2010, and the percentages at Proficient increased.
- The average score for female fourth-graders increased since 2006, while there was no significant change in the score for male fourth-graders over the same period. In 2010, female students scored 7 points higher on average than male students at grade 4, which was larger than the 2-point score difference between the two groups in earlier assessment years.
- Students making progress in civics at grade 4 but not at grades 8 and 12. In comparison to earlier civics assessments in 1998 and 2006, the average score in 2010 was higher than the scores in both years at grade 4, not significantly different from the score in either year at grade 8, and lower than the score in 2006 but not significantly different from the score in 1998 at grade 12.