CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 43

June 15, 2011


Nation’s Report Card on U.S. History Released

Eighth-graders make significant gains

The National Center for Education Statistics has released The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010, which gives an overview of how well students in grades four, eight and 12 are learning about democracy, culture, technology and America’s changing world role.

A nationally representative sample of more than 31,000 students at public and private schools were tested last year through the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Results were compared with previous assessments given in 1994, 2001 and 2006. The 2010 sample included approximately 600 Missouri students, but the report does not provide information on the performance of individual states or students.

The report shows that eighth-graders’ average scale score made a significant gain in 2010. On a scale of 0-500, eighth-graders’ average scale score was 266 in 2010, up 3 points from 2006. Black and Hispanic eighth-graders also showed significant improvement since 2006.

The scores of the lowest-performing fourth-graders were significantly higher compared to 1994 and 2001 but not 2006. For students in grade 12, the average scale score was not significantly different than in 2001 or 2006.

In addition to the 0-500 scale scores, results are reported as percentages of students scoring at or above the basic (partial mastery of the knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work), proficient (solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter) and advanced (superior performance) achievement levels. When analyzing changes in student performance, the NAEP focuses on results that are statistically significant – those that are larger than the margin of error.

Detailed findings include:

Grade Four

  • The 2010 average scale score was not significantly different than in 2006.
  • The lowest-performing students (students in the bottom 10 percent) showed an increase of 22 points from 1994 to 2010.
  • The percentages of students performing at the basic and proficient levels were significantly higher compared to 1994 but not 2006.

Grade Eight

  • The 2010 average scale score was significantly higher than in 1994, 2001 and 2006.
  • Compared to 2006, black students scored 6 points higher and Hispanic students scored 4 points higher, narrowing the gaps between these students and white students.
  • The percentage of students scoring at the basic level was significantly higher than in 2006, but the percentages scoring at the proficient and advanced levels showed no significant change.

Grade 12

  • The 2010 average scale score was not significantly different than in 2006.
  • There was no significant change in the percentages of students performing at the basic, proficient and advanced levels compared to 1994, 2001 and 2006.
  • Scores of black and Hispanic students were not significantly different compared to 2006.

The recently released NAEP High School Transcript Study provides some additional context for the U.S. history results. In 2010, the average score for students in grade 12 who reported taking an Advanced Placement course in U.S. history was 20 points higher than students who reported not taking the course. This corresponds to a greater percentage of students taking the class.

Funded by Congress, the NAEP is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what U.S. students know and can do in various academic subjects.