South Carolina public schools' U.S. Historystandards
are the nation's best, according to a newreport
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Researchers for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reviewed what all 50 states say students should learn in U.S. History class and graded them.
The Washington D.C.-based education think tank and advocacy group found:
"A majority of states’ standards are mediocre-to-awful. The average grade across all states is barely a D. In twenty-eight jurisdictions — a majority of states — the history standards earn Ds or below. Eighteen earn Fs.
"Just one state — South Carolina — has standards strong enough to earn a straight A.
"Six other states — Alabama, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia — earn A-minuses, and three more received grades in the B range. Still, this means just ten states — or about one in five — get honors marks."
The national average is a D, the report says.
S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais called the news encouraging, but cautioned that high standards are just a start.
"World-class standards don't guarantee world-class results," Zais said in a news release. "We have to make sure teachers are covering the right material with their students. We have to make sure they're properly trained and have the materials and support they need. And we need a system that gives teachers flexibility in creating classroom lessons, holds them accountable for their performance and rewards them when they succeed."
Schools have work to do on that front.
Across the state 38 percent of eighth-graders failed the last school year's standardized social studies test. Sixth-grade had the smallest share of students who failed, but that was still 21 percent.
In South Carolina, students in grades K-8 learn U.S. History in social studies class. High schools offer four courses -- global studies, United States history and the Constitution, economics, and United States government.
"South Carolina’s Standards are intelligent and competent," the report concludes. "A balanced, 'history-driven' approach is indeed evident from the start. The kindergarten through second grade materials introduce Native American and minority history without
marginalizing unifying national themes.
"The third-grade state history course is unusually sophisticated for the age level, introducing slavery, the state’s role in the Civil War, and its history of Jim Crow. The eighth-grade recap of South Carolina history is admirably detailed and well-linked to national issues."