An Analysis of the Alignment between National and State Geography Standards
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The standards-based reform movement in K-12 American education began in the 1990s after a number of polls and surveys publicized the poor performance of American students in geographical knowledge. The federal government issued a call for national standards in nine core academic areas, including geography; and in 1994, Geography for Life: National Geography Standards was published. There has been a revised edition of Geography for Life (2012). Various studies indicate that in this 24-year period (1994-2018), there has been little improvement in the effectiveness of geography teaching and learning in the K-12 schools of the U.S.
This study investigates this continuing problem by examining the level of alignment between the national geography standards and the geography portions of a sample of social studies standards revised by states between 2014 and 2017. Using the Survey of Enacted Curriculum, an alignment index was derived to report on the level of correspondence between the national geography standards and the state standards. The results, shown both statistically and graphically, indicate that the level of alignment was low and inconsistent across the states. Such measures suggest the ineffectiveness of current national standards in geography and provide useful evidence for the preparation of the next round of disciplinary standards preparation.