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West Virginia Cited In National Study on Civics

May 17, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is one of only 13 states cited in a new study about civics for creating officially sanctioned state commissions on civic education or civic literacy.  

The National Assessment Governing Board on Wednesday released “The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2006” by the National Assessment of Educational Progress as well as “The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2006.” The reports show that America’s elementary schoolchildren have made significant gains since the last report in 2001.  

“Civics and an in-depth knowledge of democracy are vitally important to our state and our nation,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “With the guidance of the state Board of Education, we are doing this in West Virginia by strengthening civic education in our schools and producing informed and engaged students.”  

West Virginia also was recognized last year by the Campaign to Promote Civic Education Center for Civic Education for its efforts to boost civics education in public schools. The state Board of Education in 2004 adopted a policy that now requires civic education and government for high school graduation. The board also revised West Virginia’s social studies content standards in 2005 to add personal finance to the civics classes.  

West Virginia’s 21st Century Skills initiative also puts a special emphasis on civic and economic literacy as well as critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy.  

“Civics education cannot be left to chance,” said state Board of Education Secretary Priscilla Haden. “It’s important for the future of society.”  

While many states may have plans to boost civic education, few have made the advances that West Virginia has made.  

“The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2006” showed that many American students are not being taught the basics of democracy and civics. The report found that only 24 percent of fourth-graders, 22 percent of eighth-graders and 27 percent of 12th-graders could reach a simple mastery of civics called proficient.  

The civics report is a slight improvement over 1998 when only 25 percent of American student demonstrated a proficient knowledge of civics. Both reports are based on a random sample and do not include state-specific data.  

“America’s schoolchildren are woefully unprepared to take their place as informed, engaged citizens,” said Charles N. Quigley, executive director of the Center for Civic Education, in response to NAEP’s civics report.  

“Although great progress has been made by the state campaigns to restore the civic mission of schools, ‘The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2006’ shows much work needs to be done to ensure that each student receives the education necessary to become an informed, engaged citizen of this nation.”  

Both reports may be obtained by visiting http://nationsreportcard.gov.

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