The Charge and the Challenges
Chapter 7. Remembrances of Things Past: Teacher Evaluation, High Stakes Testing, and the Marginalization of Social Studies and History Instruction
In recent decades, there has been a move to hold teachers and their teaching practice accountable, at least in part, for the academic gains of students on a limited number of standardized tests. Since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, which mandated that all students be held to the same standards in reading and math, and which threatened the loss of federal funding if adequate progress was not made in these areas, other subject disciplines such as social studies and history have found themselves marginalized. Conversely, with the release of the Common Core State Standards in 2010, there seems to be a call to develop just the sort of skills that are built by a solid social studies or history curriculum—such as close reading of a variety of nonfiction texts, including primary sources, and an analysis of perspective—not to mention calling for a reintroduction of content-rich reading in the lower grades, building schema for secondary social studies and history work. Unfortunately, the tests that are accompanying the new standards have become even more high-stakes, with not only student promotion but school rating and even teacher career advancement (or termination) tied to their outcomes. What does this mean for teachers who see it as their role to introduce their students to a ← 123 | 124 → historical perspective of our current circumstance, to develop in them an understanding of what it means to be a citizen of this country and the world, and to foster critical thinkers who...
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