America’s Children Aren’t Learning U.S. History and Civics

By Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Report, released earlier this month, highlights a concerning trend of declining achievement in American schools.

Released on May 3, the NAEP, commonly referred to as the “nation’s report card,” showed troubling drops in eighth grade civics and U.S. history test scores. 

Average civics scores have dropped by 2 points since 2018. Additionally, average U.S. history scores, which have been declining since 2014, decreased by 5 points. 

Every American should be concerned about these results. Only 22 percent of eighth graders scored at or above NAEP proficiency levels in civics, and only 14 percent met proficiency standards in U.S. history. It is overwhelmingly clear that our educational system is failing our children.

The latest results are in line with similarly devastating results in math and reading scores that were released last fall. In 2022, fourth and eighth grade students performed worse in math in almost every state compared to 2019, with results yielding the largest declines in scores since 1990. Further, in every region of the country and in 30 states and jurisdictions, fourth grade reading scores declined, with 66 percent of students scoring at or below the NAEP basic level.

After the release of the latest NAEP scores, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, described the results as an “outright failure.” Foxx said, “The Department of Education chooses to ignore this flashing red light and opts to shove wokeness down the throats of school districts and students.” 

In addition to the increasing politicization of social studies courses, a study by the RAND Corporation found that from a young age, students may not be getting the foundation they need in civics and U.S. history to be successful in junior high and high school. 

Classroom time is a limited and precious resource, so proposing to reallocate time away from critical subjects such as English and math is not a viable solution.

This is why I authored the Ellis the Elephant series, a seven-book children’s series to teach young Americans about the pivotal moments that have shaped American history. It is also why Gingrich 360 has partnered with Dr. Ben Carson and the American Cornerstone Institute to develop the Little Patriots program, a free online learning platform with cartoons for kids, supplementary curriculum for educators and parents, and a library of recommended children’s books to read and share. 

How our children learn and what they learn matters. In a digital age in which video games, social media platforms, and streaming services compete for the attention of America’s youth, parents, educators, and others should make a concerted effort to encourage learning outside of the classroom.

The recent NAEP Report confirms that America’s children are falling behind in U.S. history and civics, and we must work together as a nation to fix our schools, get parents more involved and reverse this troubling trend.