Eighth-Graders’ History, Civics Test Scores Hit Record Low

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Eighth-graders’ test scores in U.S. history and civics fell to the lowest levels on record last year, according to Education Department data released Wednesday.

In the first release of U.S. history and civics scores since the start of the pandemic, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, showed a decline in students’ knowledge that reversed gains made since the 1990s.

According to the data, 13% of eighth-graders met proficiency standards for U.S. history, meaning they could explain major themes, periods, events, people, ideas and turning points in the country’s history. About a fifth of students scored at or above the proficient level in civics.

Declines in students’ understanding of U.S. history that occurred before the pandemic continued, while longstanding gaps in student achievement across specific groups persisted, data show. Low-performing eighth-grade students had significant drops in civics and U.S. history scores, while high-performing students mainly held steady.