State Geography Standards in 2004

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State Geography Standards in 2004
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Anthamatten, P. 2004. "State geography standards in 2004." Journal of Geography 103 (4):182-4.
Anthamatten, Peter
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i 1 W L f~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I = ;0 000C 0:1Z140S: S0WA State Geography Standards in 2004 Peter Anthamatten On January 8, 2002, George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, which (among other things) mandated the development of state performance standards in each of the core disciplines named in the legislation. Another part of the legislation links federal funding to school performance, as measured by achievement tests based on those standards (Rosenthal 2002, 8). The primary goal of these standards is to provide a clear educational target for students and teachers, and thus to maintain a minimum level of excellence. While tensions remain within some states about the purpose, nature, and scope of educational standards (Marin 2001), they have become an important component of education in the United States. Bearing in mind the complicated and often highly-politicized process of producing standards for social studies, and particularly in the case of the often marginalized subject of geography, reviewing state standards provides a good indication of the state of geography in K 12 education. Unfortunately, standards frequently present teachers with a complicated and often vague mass of information that they must incorporate into their curriculum and lesson plans. To help teachers with this process, the Association of American Geographers has been developing the ArgWorld materials for middle and secondary schools. Throughout the project, the ARGWorld authors and editors kept a close eye on the parallel development of state standards. At least three times a year, we convened a discussion group to report on the fit between the materials being produced and the standards that had been released in that time. Then, after the materials were published, we prepared a careful summary review of each state's standards; that is the work described in this article. With but one exception, the state standards are now available online, retrievable as Word Documents, Adobe pdf files, or html files. The Developing Educational Standards web site (http:/ / Standards.html) provides a good (though not always entirely current) index of links to state standards web pages, indexed both by subject area and state. This article details our findings about state standards as they appear on-line in May 2004. Because state standards are periodically reviewed and revised, this review must be viewed as a snapshot of that time period. Figure 1 is a summary of our findings about state standards; for PerAnthamatten is a doctorial cndieach state, it indicates whether geography is represented as a unique set Peter Universis a doc ta. He of standards, combined with other disciplines, contained as one or more date at the Universita of Minnesota. He benchmarks within other disciplines' standards, or not represented at all. the Association of American Geographers Several people have tried to study or catalogue state geography ARGWorld project. standards (see Bednarz 1997, Munroe and Smith 1998, and Bednarz 1998). Varied in scope and purpose, these prior efforts identified the difficulties of this kind of work. State standards are often in flux and may quickly be replaced. Moreover, they often exist in the forms of multiple drafts, and they are defined and used differently across states. Some states provide detailed standards with assessment tools and related resources for every grade level in geography. Others provide a short list of general geography standards for the entire K 12 curriculum. The confusion extends right up to the top Journal of Geographiy 103:182-184 2004 National Council for Geographic Education


183 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 4 4 z IL_I_7 L ~ L ~ L I I I I = I I I I I I I I I I I E I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I:Lr=L= k-ILL=l|= I I I I I I =1=E31=11 mEl I IEN I I I =1=i=1= I I I I 211 [= t iv=,z,1=1 II I I I l= III I I __m 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 121 Grade Level I AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA Ml MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC Figutre 1. Summaryjfindinigs of standards by state level in the standards, as evidenced by the fact that there seems to be almost no agreement about what to call "geography standards." Over twenty different terms such as "learning results," "proficiency standards," "frameworks," and "cores" are used to refer to standards. Because of the varying nature of state standards, we were careful to adhere to a strict set of operational definitions in producing this figure. One thing that is clear, however, is that geography's presence in state educational standards has grown significantly over the last five years. Education USA (2002), in an examination of states' compliance with accountability standards, reported that only one state, Colorado, had a unique set of geography standards. In that report, forty states are listed as having social studies standards (geography's presence within these is not reported). A more optimistic report from the National Geographic Society states that no geography standards were in place in 1989, that forty were in place by 1998 and that the figure had risen to forty-nine by 2002 (Moore 2004). In May 2004, we found that 46 states had distinct sets of geography standards separate from other disciplines. Three other states did not have geography standards represented as a distinct set, but geography was represented in various forms within the standards for other disciplines. The ordy state in which geography was not represented at all was Iowa, which does not currently have state academic standards for any discipline. Geography is represented in some form in 48 states for the entire K 12 curriculum, though the depth and form of this representation varied enormously. Twenty-eight states included unique geography standards (independent from other social sciences) for all grade levels. Geography is generally best represented in the middle grade levels (grades six through nine). In several instances, geography standards were replaced in favor of economics, political science, or psychology in grade 12. There was almost no consistency in the way that geography standards were grouped by grade. The most common grade-grouping, in nine different states, divided geography standards into groups of four (grades 1-4, 4-8, and 8-12). At the other extreme, almost half of the states had a grouping of grades (and implied assessment schedule) that was either unique or shared by only one other state. While important national publications and legislation have lead to the proliferation of state education standards for geography, the comprehensiveness and quality of geography standards is not consistent between states. If the diagram in this paper has any lasting meaning, it is that people in different states clearly have different ideas about the position of geography in the curriculum. While some states possess high-quality standards that may result in a useful guide for teachers, others remain vague, contradictory, and poorly written. The fact that geography has gained a presence in so many states and grade levels is a positive development AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA Ml MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC FL Distinct set of geography standards r1 Combined with other discipline [3 Some standards within another discipline M No specific standards for geography III No social studies standards I Grade-group divide in standards Emommmmmmm Ilm r`77777 i


184 tlhai must be followed up by continued efforts by knowledgeable geographers to improve them. Putting a similarly positive spin on the wide variety of implied assessment schedules, we conclude by saying that geographers should take advantage of this "natural experiment" to observe, as carefully as we can, what kind of standards seems to work best in stimulating durable learning of geographic ideas in different states. Until we have actually conducted research on what works, we should resist the temptation to impose a single recommended assessment calendar. Works Cited Association of American Geographers. 2003. ArgWorld CD. Austin, TX: Holt Reinhardt. Bednarz, S.W. 1997. State standards and the faring of geography. Ubique 17(3):1-3. Bednarz, S.W. 1998. State standards: Implementing geography for life. Journal of Geography 97(2): 8389. Developing Educational Standards. 2004. http: // /Standards.html (last accessed on 21 April 2004). Moore, A. 2004. Geographic Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) Report on the Status of Geography in K-12 Curriculum in the U.S. Unpublished report for GENIP. Marran, J. 2001. Standards-directed education: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Journal of Geography 100(6): 271-272. Munroe, S., and T. Smith.1998. State Geographiy Standards. Washington D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Educational U.S.A. 2002. "No child left behind" now one for the books. Rosenthal, Irene. 2002. No child left behind. Technology & Learninlg, Feb 2002 22(7): 8. Geo/SAT 2 A complete integrated teaching package for remote sensing for high school and introductory college or university courses. Includes: -lesson modules -digital satellite imagery of the earth's surface -software (EarthScenesTgI) Simple arithmetic methods are used to illustrate principles and solve real world application problems. o Site license for a high school or college dapartment is $95.00. Lesson modules were developed by Prof. Paul Baumann, Chair of the NCGE Remote Sensing Task Force. o Lesson modules can be viewed at: *Information on the whole package can be viewed at: http: // Eidetic Digital Imaging Ltd. 1210 Main Park Drive Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada, V8M 1G7 Phone: 250-652-9326 Fax: 250-652-5269 Email: Web: /-eidetic


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