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Does More Reading Make For Better Social Studies?

EdWeek's recent NAEP test results story (Test Gains Reigniting Old Debate) does a good job exposing the ritualized response that follows the release of NAEP scores as various folks try and make sense of the results (and, often, bolster their cause).

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How big were the gains, and were they attributable to -- or in spite of -- the focus on reading and math that has come with NCLB and Reading First? Not surprisingly, the Administration takes the view that all good things stem from NCLB, while others -- social studies advocates, for example -- aren't so sure that federal programs have helped with any but the most basic results. Meanwhile, time for social studies has declined a half hour per day since 1998, and time for reading has increased by an hour.

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As a historian, I am appalled with the lack of interest administration has in my content area. In fact, at the k-8 school I teach in, next year we won't bother to have a social studies course at all-we'll just combine it with English and call it humanities.

No wonder my students were practically in tears over the state social studies exam today.

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