K-8 Assessments for Social Studies Restored


State Social Studies Tests Return at the Fourth and Sixth Grade  

Governor Kasich has signed the biennium budget and the Ohio Department of Education has confirmed that new Social Studies assessments will be administered to 4th and 6th grade students beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.  These assessments will be electronic, grade-level specific and be aligned to Ohio’s New Learning Standards for the Social Studies.  We would like to the thank Dr. Nancy Patterson and the Ohio Professors of Social Studies Education (OPSSE), who conducted a study in 2011 to measure the impact of the suspension/elimination of the grades 5 and 8 Ohio Achievement Tests (OAA’s) on social studies instruction in grades 3-5.  The data from this study and an earlier OPSSE study in 2008 were invaluable to our advocacy efforts.  We would also like to thank the OCSS leadership, including Dan Langen, Anne Baldwin, Bill Harris, Adam Motter, Corbin Moore, and Dr. Brad Maguth, for taking the time to meet and speak with state legislators, state board members, and ODE consultants on multiple occasions over the past 4 years.  This is a great victory for Social Studies as a subject area, but more importantly it is a victory for our students and young citizens.

9 Comments on “K-8 Assessments for Social Studies Restored

  1. Hofstra University’s Professor, Alan Singer, challenged the agenda of the National Council on Social Studies, as reported at Diane Ravitch’s blog. A commenter, at the blog, described Gates’ grants to NCSS at the half-million mark. This summer, Microsoft and Pearson announced a deal to develop curriculum for the copyrighted Common Core. Does the Ohio Council for the Social Studies receive funding from Gates? The specification, in OCSS’ announcement of legislative success, was for electronic administration of tests.

    • The Ohio Council for the Social Studies was established nearly 60 years ago and is supported by its members (ohio social studies teachers and professionals). We do not receive funding from the Gates Foundation. We are an affiliate of NCSS, but we are not funded by them. Ohio’s new assessments at grades 4 and 6 and for high school American History and Government are produced by the American Institutes of Research (AIR) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), not PARCC and the Common Core.

      The primary reason that the Ohio Council for the Social Studies advocated for the return of elementary and middle schools assessments (which were cut in 2009) was to ensure that students at the elementary level receive adequate instruction in social studies. It is well documented that time for social studies has been sacrificed at the elementary level in order for teachers and students to focus on the tested subjects–English Language Arts and Math, leaving students at a deficit in their knowledge of history, civics, geography, and economics. During the years we had 5th and 8th Grade Social Studies Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA’s), we saw modest gains in instructional time for the social studies instruction at grades 3-6, but the average percentage of students above proficiency on these tests needs more attention and time. It is not acceptable that the 61% of 5th graders and 51% of 8th graders passed a test where the passing threshold was 49% between 2007 and 2009 (see chart at https://ocss.org/advocacy/restore-k-8-assessments-for-social-studies-in-ohio-campaign-victory/). Additionally, 55% of person’s academic vocabulary comes from the social studies (Marzano). Limiting social studies instruction time not only impacts students’ knowledge of social studies content and skills, but also students’ ability to read and understand more complex texts in middle school and high school (see paper at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B86Q_tXM1BpcRW9pOGc1bEFOV28/view?usp=sharing).

      If we could have accomplished the goal of providing adequate instruction time for social studies without advocating for tests, we would have done so, but we live in under the unfortunate reality that “what gets tested, gets taught.” Our state has a lot of work to do to improve social studies and civic education, and we will continue to work with teachers, professors, civic and professional organizations, and concerned citizens to give our students (young citizens) that best education possible.

      I would also offer NCSS President’s response to Alan Singer’s editorial – http://connected.socialstudies.org/blogs/michelle-herczog/2015/01/09/respondingalansinger

      Thank you,

      Corbin Moore
      President of the Ohio Council for the Social Studies

      • Isn’t this what we as parents are tired of? Teaching to a test!

      • Kelly,

        Thank you for the reply. The alternative in this situation was not teach the social studies (history, civics, geography, and economics) at all or in a very limited way at grades K-6. Since “No Child Left Behind” was signed into law in 2002 by President Bush, history and the social studies have been the subject left behind, because districts have shifted their resources to the “tested subjects” — English Language Arts and Math. Your point about students being over-tested and teachers teaching to the test is a valid one. However, not testing the social studies at grades 4 and 6 would mean that our young citizens would not be getting the foundational knowledge about American History and Citizenship and World Geography and Economics they need. We also know that not teaching social studies impacts a student’s ability to read more complex books and texts, because 55% of a person’s academic vocabulary comes from words learning in social studies. It is our aim as a volunteer organization of teachers to help our students become academically and civically literate. Unfortunately, in today’s educational and political climate “what gets tested, gets taught.”

  2. Electronic administration of tests is identified, in the NCSS “Advocacy” tab, which describes OCSS’ announcement of “legislative success”.
    As an Ohio taxpayer, I think my tax dollars are better spent, in Ohio, to pay teachers. Teacher and pensioner spending, props up community real estate values, provides tax support for infrastructure and, through the multiplier effect, creates Ohio jobs.
    Test and tech companies and hedge funds overwhelmingly benefit the east and west coasts, with the notable exception identified by the publication, Mother Jones, “The third largest shareholder of the major U.S. education testing company, is the government of Libya.”
    Without a foundation of evidence that out-of-state testing products, software, hardware and data collection, will create good-paying Ohio jobs, the expenditures squander taxes, impoverishing middle class communities.

    • Linda,

      I appreciate your inquiry. The company that creates Ohio’s Social Studies and Science tests has an office and processing center in Columbus, Ohio (http://www.air.org/page/locations). At this point, I would encourage you to voice your concerns to your Ohio Representative and Senator in Columbus.

      Corbin

      • Thank you for your reply.
        I have contacted both the Ohio legislature and the Department of Education and, I participated in a protest at the state capitol this summer. IMO, Ohio’s Congress is deaf to all constituents, who are not major contributors to the Republican Party. While my tax dollars line the pockets of corrupt and/or failing charter school operators, it is far worse that Ohio politicians demean sacrifices for democracy, by gerrymandering the state, which denies the citizen’s right, to have his vote counted.
        It is unconscionable when an Ohio politician looks a soldier in the eye, thanking him for his sacrifice, knowing the soldier’s freedom to participate in the selection of an elected representative, was taken away. Ohio politicians who allow gerrymandering to continue, should be denied the hypocritical opportunity to participate in ceremonies honoring soldiers, particularly, Memorial Day parades.

      • Reporter Alie Gross, at Education Dive, Oct. 20, 2014, wrote, “American Institutes for Research (AIR) received $7 mil. in Gates grants.

  3. Ohio students should be engaged in the study of social studies, art, and music. When the Dayton Daily News publishes an explanation of the importance of the 5 out of 8 rule, by Xenia City Schools Superintendent Dillaplain, and, the excuses of a short-sighted and narrow-minded Ohio Board member, who opposes it, Ohioans become informed. When the Akron-Beacon Journal reports on the corruption and failures, in charter schools (knowyourcharter.com) and the political donations of their owners, to the Ohio Republican party (and, the New York Democratic Party), Ohioans begin to understand the implication. Their state and federal education governments, are working against the best interests of the poor and middle class and, their children.
    When a Long Island teacher, on Jan. 20, 2015, has the support of her superintendent, in refusing to administer high stakes testing, it is the beginning of a march. The science teacher, Beth Dimino, said, “I find myself at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education….I can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. .. I will not distort curriculum …to comply with bubble test thinking… the students’ intrinsic love of learning. is undermined.. these tests make me culpable in the abuse of children…”
    Mercedes Schneider, in her book, Who’s Who in the Implosion of Public Education, identifies the villainthropies of Walton, Broad and Gates, in distorting public education. The New York hedge funds have had their part, as well, in taking tax dollars, intended for the education of students. The multimillionaires and billionaires select schools with an enriching curriculum and no high stakes testing, for their children. It is the children,of people who actually contribute to GDP, who are subjected to ruthlessness, in the drive for profits for the plutocrats,
    Ohio parents, in droves, should join the march to opt their children out of rank and sort testing.

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