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Thomas B. Fordham Institute Rates State U. S. History Standards

Underwritten by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, this report is one man's judgment of state standards in U. S. History. The report card writer is Sheldon Stern, former chief historian at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston. He worked on the Massachusetts history standards, which are rated A in the report, one of only six A's given out.

Writing the foreword to the document, Chester E. Finn, Jr., asserts (in boxed text), State standards are the recipe from which the entire education system cooks.

Finn credits Diane Ravitch, "whose clear thinking and resolute dedication to better history teachiing inspire and inform so much of our work."

Finn provides the criteria for grading state history standards. Here are the criteria-- quoted directly from Finn's foreword.

Comprehensive Historical Content: Do a state's standards expect U. S. history to be taught comprehensively...including the most important political, social, cultural, and economic events and major historical figures?

Sequential Development: Do the standards present the teaching of U. S. history in a coherent and structured sequence...?Or do they sacrifice sequentially developed knowledge for process skills and goals--offering students nothing more than a haphazard hodgepodge of unlreated themes and topics?

Balance: Are the standards evenhanded--reasonably free of hero-worship and glorification of the past at one extreme, and of politically correct posturing, distortions and omissions at the opposite extreme? Do the standards place historical events in context--avoiding presentism and moralistic judgements?

Here are the grades:
Alabama A
Alaska F
Arizona A
Arkansas F
California A
Colorado D
Connecticut D
Delaware B
D. C. F
Florida D
Georgia B
Hawaii F
Idaho D
Illinois F
Indiana A
Iowa *
Kansas B
Kentucky F
Louisiana D
Maine F
Maryland C
Massachusetts A
Michigan F
Minnesota F
Mississippi F
Missouri F
Montana F
Nebraska C
Nevada C
New Hampshire F
New Jersey F
New Mexico F
New York A
North Carolina F
North Dakota F
Ohio D
Oklahoma B
Oregon D
Pennsylvania F
Rhode Island *
South Carolina C
South Dakota D
Tennessee C
Texas C
Utah C
Vermont F
Virginia B
Washington F
West Virginia F
Wisconsin F
Wyoming F

*There were no U.S. history or social studies standards as of May 15, 2003.

— Sheldon M. Stern
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Effective State Standards for U. S. History





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