Webinar of The Nation’s Report Card: 2010 Geography, Grades 4, 8, and 12

Webinar of The Nation’s Report Card: 2010 Geography, Grades 4, 8, and 12


Good morning and welcome to today’s briefing to release the results of the Nation’s Report Card, Geography 2010. I am David Gordon, Superintendent of Schools of the Sacramento County Office of Education and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board. The Governing Board is an independent bipartisan board that sets policy to the National Assessment of Educational Progress also called NAEP. The assessment results are reported to the country as the Nation’s Report Card. The Governing Board is pleased to host today’s event. As most of you know, NAEP is the only ongoing nationally represented assessment of student performance in the United States, so today’s results are both of importance and interest. Before we begin the data presentation, Jose, our webinar producer, will address the logistics and mechanics for using WebEx. But first I’d like to run through our agenda. After Jose makes sure we are WebEx savvy, Dr. Jack Buckley, Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, will present the national NAEP 2010 Geography results for grades four, eight, and twelve. Then Governing Board member Shannon Garrison will offer her perspective on the results. Shannon is a fourth grade teacher at Solano Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles, California. Finally, we are pleased to welcome internationally-renowned geography expert Dr. Roger Downs. Roger is a Professor of Geography at the Pennsylvania State University, and he will share his thoughts on this NAEP report card. We will conclude with time for questions from our webinar participants. Before we start I wanted to let you know that you can take part in a new interactive element of today’s webinar. During the webinar, please look to the Chat and Polling panels just to the right of your WebEx viewer. There we will display questions from previous NAEP Geography assessments at grades four, eight, and twelve and provide instant polling results. Responses are anonymous, so test your geography knowledge against other webinar participants. And now, Jose, please share with us what attendees will need to know. Thank you, Superintendent Gordon. All right, to ask a question at any time throughout the call, the Q&A panel is located in the lower right-hand portion of your screen. Type your question at the bottom of the box and click the Send button. Please remember to direct all your questions to all panelists. Also include your name and organization with all questions. If you have any technical issues, please refer to your confirmation email for details. You can also send us a quick message to the Q&A panel; we’ll try to help you. You can also call 866-229-3239. I will put these instructions on the chat panel so you can refer to them. Back to you, Superintendent Gordon. Thank you, Jose. So let us now begin. It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Jack Buckley. Jack is the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. On leave from his position as a Professor of Applied Statistics at NYU, he is known for his research on school choice, particularly charter schools and on statistical methods for public policy. Jack, thank you for being here, and we all look forward to hearing the results. Thank you, Dave. Good morning, everyone. I’m very pleased to be here today to release the results of the 2010 Geography assessment. This is our first Geography assessment since 2001. The assessment measures students’ geography knowledge and skills and is organized around content areas that describe specific geography subject matter and cognitive areas that reflect different levels of understanding geography. The assessment was administered in early 2010, and we have national results for grades four, eight, and twelve. As you can see, seven thousand fourth graders took the assessment while both the grade eight and grade twelve samples were larger, ninety-five hundred or more. Overall results are based on the performance of both public and private school students. At grades four and twelve participation rate standards for separate reporting of private school students, however, were not met, so we only have private school results at grade eight for 2010. Student performance is presented in two ways: average scale scores with the single zero to five hundred scale for all three grades, and separate achievement levels for each grade. The NAEP achievement levels, basic, proficient and advanced, are set by the National Assessment Governing Board which sets policy for NAEP. NAEP scale scores tell us what students know and can do while the NAEP achievement levels provide standards for what students should know and be able to do. For both scale scores and achievement levels, we will be making comparisons back to previous assessments in 1994 and 2001. When making these comparisons, we must remember that all NAEP results are based on samples. This means there is a margin of error associated with every score and percentage. When discussing changes in student performance either increases or decreases, we’ll only discuss those that are statistically significant; that is, those that are larger than this margin of error. In the tables and figures that follow, an asterisk is used to indicate statistically significant differences when comparing scores from previous assessments to 2010. The Geography assessment is guided by a framework that combines key physical science and social science aspects of geography, and focuses on what geography students should know to be competent and productive twenty-first century citizens. The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the development of the assessment framework. The assessment groups questions into three content areas: space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections. About forty percent of the assessment is devoted to space and place and about thirty percent each for the other two content areas. These percentages are the same for grades four, eight, and twelve. The three types of cognitive skills for geography are identified in the framework as knowing, understanding and applying. Again, we have the percentages of questions devoted to each area. The areas are defined as follows: Knowing. Questions in this area ask the students what is it; where is it. Students should be able to observe different elements of the landscape and answer questions by recalling, for example, the name of a place. Understanding. The questions for understanding ask students, why is it there; how did it get there; what is its significance. Students should be able to attribute meaning to what has been observed and explain events. Applying. Finally, students are asked to apply what they’ve learned. How can knowledge and understanding be used to solve geographic problems? Students should be able to classify, hypothesize, use inductive and deductive reasoning, and form problem-solving models. As you see on the content areas, the degree of emphasis for the cognitive skill areas vary by grade. The emphasis on knowing decreases in the upper grades while the emphasis on applying increases. We’ll begin our review of student performance at grade four. The average score for grade four students in 2010, 213 was higher than on either prior assessment. When we look at student performance at various percentiles, we get a more detailed picture of student performance. Scores improved for low performing students at the tenth and twenty-fifth percentiles and for those in the middle compared to both 1994 and 2001. For higher performing students, however, those at the seventh-fifty and ninetieth percentiles, scores did not change significantly in comparison to either previous assessment. The increases in performance we saw for lower performing students on the previous slide are reflected in the grade four achievement level results. Fifty-eight percent of fourth graders were in the basic range in 2010 compared to forty-eight percent in 1994 and fifty-two percent in 2001. At the same time the percentage at advanced fell from three percent in 1994 to two percent in 2010. Scores for white, black, Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander students were higher in 2010 than in 1994. Since 1994 the twenty-six point increase for black students and the nineteen point increase for Hispanic students were larger than the six point increase for white students. When we compare scores in 2010 to scores in 2001, we see increases for white, black and Hispanic students. Comparisons could not be made to prior years for American Indian or Alaska Native students because the NAEP samples in 1994 and 2001 for these students were not large enough to permit the reporting of reliable results. In 2010, the average scores for white and Asian or Pacific Islander students were higher than the scores for other groups. This slide gives achievement level results for the four racial ethnic groups for whom we have trend data. The percentages of black and Hispanic students at basic were higher than either previous assessment. For black students only, the percentage at proficient was higher as well comparing 2010 to 1994. For white students, the percentage at basic was higher in 2010 than in 1994. For Asian or Pacific Islander students, the percentage at basic did not change significantly but the percentage below basic did decline falling from twenty-eight percent in 1994 to thirteen percent in 2010. For white, black and Hispanic students, the percentage below basic was lower than in either previous assessment year. What this means is that racial ethnic gaps narrowed in 2010. This line shows the increases in scores for white fourth graders from 1994 to 2010. The second line shows the increases for black students. Because the score increases for black students were larger than the increases for white students, the thirty-one point gap in 2010 was narrower from the previous gaps in 1994 and 2001. When we bring in the second graph showing the white-Hispanic score gap, we see a similar pattern. Larger score increases for Hispanic students resulted in a twenty-seven point gap for 2010 that was narrower than the previous gaps. Scores were higher in 2010 for both male and female students than in either prior assessment. The four point difference in scores in 2010 was statistically significant but was not measurably different from the five point gaps in 2001 and 1994. Now, when NAEP assesses students, we also ask their teachers about their instructional practices. Among other things, we asked teachers how often they instructed their students in a variety of topics related to geography. Most students had teachers who said they instructed their students in the six topics listed here at least once or twice a month. Now, we’re going to take a look at a sample question for grade four geography. This question asks students to select the most common use for land in the Great Plains region of the United States. Fifty-five percent of students recognized that the correct answer was B, farming. Now, we’ll turn to look at the results for grade eight students. At grade eight we see no change in 2010 from either 1994 or 2001. Bringing in the scores again by percentile, we see that the average score for students at the tenth percentile was seven points higher than in 1994 and four points higher at the twenty-fifth percentile. Comparing scores in 2010 to those in 2001, we again see a seven point increase at the tenth percentile. Now, even though the average score for eighth graders did not change from 1994 to 2010, the percentage of students at the basic achievement level did change, increasing to forty-seven percent as compared to forty-three percent in both 1994 and 2001. The percentage below basic fell from twenty-nine percent in 1994 to twenty-six percent in 2010. However, the percentage at advanced also fell from four percent in 1994 to three in 2010. As this graph shows, the white-black score gap in geography: thirty-one points in 2010 was narrower than in either 1994 or 2001. The average scores for black and white students were higher in 2010 than in 1994 but the twelve point increase for black students was larger than the three point increase for white students. And again, the second graph shows the white-Hispanic score gaps for the three administrations of the geography assessment, which did not change significantly. Average scores for Hispanics in 2010 were higher than in either previous assessment, but the increases were not large enough to cause a significant change in the size of the gap. We asked eighth grade students about their frequency with which they studied certain topics in geography. Comparing 1994 to 2010, we see increased percentages of students reporting that they frequently studied countries and cultures and environmental issues. Examples given on the questionnaire of the latter were pollution and recycling. The decline occurred for natural resources, exemplified in the questionnaire by oil, forests and water, shown by the three green bars at the left. In 2010, thirty percent of students reported that they studied natural resources at least once a week, unchanged from 1994 but lower than the thirty-three percent shown for 2001. Now, I’ll turn to a sample question from the grade eight assessment. Students were shown four maps of Australia drawn to different scales and were asked to identify the map showing the largest area. Seventy percent selected choice A, identifying map one in the upper left-hand corner as showing the largest area. Now, we’ll look at the results for grade twelve. In 2010, the average score for grade twelve students, 282, was lower than in 1994 and not significantly different from 2001. Looking at score changes since 1994 by percentile, we see an increase of three points at the tenth percentile and decreases at the fiftieth, seventy-fifth and ninetieth. Since 2001, we also see decreases for these middle and higher performing students. When we look at the achievement levels again, we see an increase in 2010 for the percentage of students at basic compared to both prior assessment years and a decrease in the percentage at proficient. Since 2001, there was a decline in the percentage at advanced. The increase for the percentage at basic could be due to both score increases for lower performing students and score decreases for those higher performing students. There was no significant change in the white-black score gap at grade twelve in 2010. In addition, there were no significant changes in scores for either white or black students. And there were also no significant changes in gaps or scores for white or Hispanic students. When we again look at scores for male and female students, this time at grade twelve, we see that male students scored higher than female students in all three administrations, but the five point gap at 2010 was not significantly different from the gaps in the prior two assessments. However, the average score for male students in 2010 was lower than in 1994 by three points. We asked grade twelve students the same questions about the geography topics they studied in class and the frequency with which they studied those topics as we asked students in grade eight. For grade twelve students, the percentages who said they studied natural resources, countries and cultures, and environmental issues at least once a month were higher in 2010 than in either prior assessment. And here’s a sample question for grade twelve, this time asking students to give one major reason why the population per square mile for both Australia and Libya is six. Students were also asked to explain their reason. Students could receive a score of complete, partial, or unacceptable, depending on the quality of their answer. Five percent received a rating of complete while twenty percent received a partial, and sixty-two percent received an unacceptable. In addition, eleven percent omitted the question. The answer shown here was scored as complete. The student said that both of these countries are covered mostly by desert. Libya is dominated by the uninhabitable Sahara desert and very few people live in the Australian Outback, which comprises most of the continent. Now, I’ll conclude with a brief summary of our geography results for 2010. The orange line on each graph shows the overall student performance while the green lines show performance by percentile. At grade four, the overall score was higher than on either prior assessment. Scores also improved for low and middle performing students at the tenth, twenty-fifth and fiftieth percentiles. At grade eight the overall score in 2010 was not significantly different than either prior score, and scores for lower performing students were higher in 2010 than they had been in 1994. And at grade twelve, the overall score was lower than in either prior assessment. This was true for middle and higher performing students as well. Improvement since 1994 was seen only for students at the tenth percentile. This figure summarizes changes in scores for five racial ethnic groups over the three assessments. Scores were higher in 2010 than in either previous assessment year for black and Hispanic students at grades four and eight, as indicated by the orange triangles. This was also true for white students at grade four only. For white students at grade eight and for Asian or Pacific Islander students at grade four, scores in 2010 were higher than in 1994. This slide looks at student performance across the three social studies NAEP assessments that we administered in 2010. Civics, US history, and geography. At grade four, scores in 2010 were higher than in either earlier assessment for both civics and geography. For US history, the grade four average score was higher in 2010 than in 1994. At grade eight, scores in 2010 were not significantly different from any earlier assessment for both civics and geography. However for US history, the score in 2010 was higher than in both prior assessments. And at grade twelve, the average score in 2010 was lower than in 2006 for civics, higher than in 1994 for history, and lower than in 1994 for geography. The 2010 Geography Report Card provides all this information and much more. In addition, the initial release website gives extensive information on the performance of students, access to released assessment questions through NAEP’s Question Center and the NAEP Data Explorer, our online data analysis tool. In conclusion, as always I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to all the students, teachers and schools who participated in the 2010 Geography assessment. Thank you. Thank you, Jack. …knowledge against other webinar participants. Next we turn to Ms. Shannon Garrison, a National Board Certified teacher. Since 1997, Shannon has served Solano Avenue Elementary in many capacities including coordinating her school’s bilingual and Title 1 program and authoring winning applications for the National Blue Ribbon School and California Distinguished School programs. Shannon has received many honors including a fellowship to the Lowell Milken Center and the Milkin National Educator Award. Shannon will share her experiences with her students in and out of the classroom and an instructor’s perspective on why geography education is important. Thank you for being here with us today, Shannon. And thank you, Dave. As Dave mentioned, I’m a fourth grade teacher at Solano Avenue Elementary School in downtown Los Angeles, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. At Solano most of our students are Asian or Latino, and the majority come from low-income homes. Many are also English language learners. There are approximately ten different languages spoken by the students at Solano, and their family histories cover a great deal of geography. Yet many of these children have never traveled anywhere outside their own neighborhoods. This past Spring I took students on a field trip to the Manzanar National Historic Site, which was an internment camp for Japanese-Americans and people of Japanese descent during World War II. It’s two hundred twenty-five miles north of Los Angeles in the eastern Sierra Nevadas, about a four-hour bus ride from LA. Many of the students kept asking if we were still in California, even though we had studied where the camp was on a map. They couldn’t comprehend that we were still in California; that our state is so big and so varied. Geography is the study of our planet Earth, how its lands, seas and people interact and of the impact that its different peoples, economies and societies have upon one another. Geography, along with history, civics and economics, is part of the social studies. Each of these subjects is tested separately by NAEP, yet obviously these subjects are intertwined. Geography provides the context for all the others. The NAEP geography assessment goes well beyond place name geography though students are expected to know the names and locations of many places. To reach the proficient achievement level, students must be able to apply what they know, to use important concepts, and to analyze and explain specific situations. It is in these application and analytical skills that too many of our students fall short. As Commissioner Buckley has told you, the average score on the NAEP geography assessment has increased over the past decade and a half at grade four, stayed flat at grade eight, and declined at grade twelve. All of the gains at grade four have taken place at the basic achievement level or below. Since about the year 2000, there have been similar gains at the fourth grade basic level in NAEP civics and US history. These improvements may reflect another trend in NAEP, the gain in basic reading skills as reported by the fourth grade reading assessment over the past decade. The improvement in basic reading skills would certainly impact the lower performing students because if they can read the questions easily they have a much better chance of answering them correctly. The proportion of students with at least a basic level knowledge of geography is reasonably high, about seventy to eighty percent at grades four, eight and twelve, but only about a quarter of the students reach the proficient level and that small proportion has not changed significantly and in some instances has actually declined. The situation at twelfth grade is the most disappointing. There the proportion of students reaching proficient has dropped steeply, from twenty-seven percent in 1994 to just twenty percent last year. More twelfth graders report that they study geography topics at least once a month, but very few seem to develop the analytical and conceptual framework they need or much in-depth knowledge of the subject. In elementary school many teachers integrate geography into the other subjects they teach. It is not only part of social studies, it also can be referred to and developed in reading and science, and even math. But in middle and high school, geography is often the unclaimed subject. In many districts and schools the responsibility for teaching geography is unclear. The data seemed to indicate that students are not receiving sufficient quality instruction in geography, and as an educator and citizen, this concerns me. Besides the sample questions on the Geography Report Card, several dozen more test items have been released today. They are available to the public online through the NAEP questions tool. I would like to talk about a few of the questions which offer some insight into what students know and how clearly they can think and reason. At grade four there is a question that asks students to determine distance on a map. That’s a basic skill, but because of the dependence on technology, the ability to read a map seems to be becoming a lost art. Sadly, on this question, only about a third of the students chose the correct answer, which is D, a hundred a forty miles. Here’s another question where the percentage of correct responses really shocked me. I couldn’t believe that only fifty-one percent of fourth graders could put these places in descending order of size: North America, the USA, California and Los Angeles. At eighth grade there are several questions which show the strengths and weaknesses of what students know and can do in geography. The first is a line graph showing the changes in urban and rural population in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most students could read the graph. When asked a factual question about it, eighty-three percent answered correctly. But when asked to give two reasons why the population changes occurred performance fell off. Twenty-six percent gave one acceptable reason. Just four percent gave two reasons, and the remaining seventy percent of test papers were wrong, blank or off task. About half of the eighth grade students answered correctly a multiple choice question about why sod houses were built on the American Great Plains, but only nine percent could write a full explanation of the population distribution in Egypt, which they were shown on a map. At twelfth grade, about eighty percent correctly answered a multiple choice question on the main reason why people move from one country to another, economics. But only twelve percent could give even a partial explanation based on a diagram about how changes in transportation have influenced urban growth. It seems pretty clear from these examples that most students have some basic skills and some basic facts, but they fall well short of being able to marshal enough information and general concepts to give responsive answers to some straightforward questions. The basic skills are important. The improvements shown in basic reading and at the basic level in fourth grade geography are significant. But our schools must go beyond that to develop the insights and analytical abilities that our students need to understand the world. As a teacher, I realize the power of geography. It provides the context for understanding many of the complex social, political, and economic relationships that exist in our world. Geography is easily integrated into any subject and it can provide the engaging real-world examples that make learning meaningful. I believe the social studies, including geography, are crucial for our students and for our schools. The NAEP test itself shows some of the richness of the field. Unfortunately, it also shows that too many students still fall far short of the knowledge and understanding they need. And now I’ll turn things back over to Dave. Thank you, Shannon. And now we turn to Dr. Roger Downs, a distinguished geography expert who coincidentally has been involved in the development of the NAEP frameworks of geography and the National Geography Standards as well. Roger is currently Professor of Geography and former head of the Department of Geography at the Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses. He has served on numerous committees and councils and has authored many reports and publications. This morning Roger will use his vast insight to explain why geography knowledge is a vital skill and how many aspects of this academic area are already an important part of our daily lives. Welcome, Roger. Thank you, Dave, Jack and Shannon. As a geography educator and a veteran of all three NAEP geography assessments, it is an honor to help focus attention on an increasingly important school subject. I want to highlight key results from the report and put them into context by asking why they might have occurred and what they might mean for K-12 education in the future. The overall pattern of performance shows improvements at grade four, no change at grade eight, and slight decline at grade twelve. This pattern reflects the status of geography in America’s schools. Geography is taught as part of social studies in grades K-4, and that curricular arrangement often extends into grades five and six. Geography typically appears in grade seven or eight as a stand-alone world conscience course. In high school, geography is rarely taught as a stand-alone course and at best is infused with another subject. The only exception is the rapid growth of AP Human Geography, with more than sixty-eight thousand test takers in 2010, a thirty-five percent increase just compared to 2009. Despite the relative lack of attention to geography in American schools, the report contains some encouraging news. First, the significant increase in performance by students in grade four is important because these students represent the next generation and they will progress into higher grades with a stronger grounding in geography. Second, increase in scores for the lowest performing students at all three grades means that the gap between the lowest and highest performing students is narrowing. Third, another gap is narrowing. It is especially pleasing to see significant narrowing of the gap in average performance between black and white students at grades four and eight. These narrowing gaps remind us that geography is accessible to all students. The report, however, also contains some discouraging news. First, average performance at grades eight and twelve did not improve over average performance in either 1994 or 2001. In fact, at grade twelve there was a decrease from 1994. Second, the gap persists between the performance of boys and girls. In all three NAEP reports, boys out-performed girls in terms of average scores by grade and in terms of percentage at or above proficient level by grade. While this gap is real, it is important not to overstate it. Although the difference in average scores between boys and girls is statistically significant, it is small. The distributions overlap to large measure. Boys and girls are equally capable of mastering and enjoying geography. In summary, therefore, we see a picture of positive change, no change, and even slight decline across the grades. And what might be responsible for this mixture of results? Well first, given the current commitment to curriculum time, the results meet the expectations, if not hopes, of geography educators. To the extent the classroom time becomes an even more scarce commodity, geography with subjects such as history and the arts, is losing out in the zero sum game that results from high stakes testing. In 1994, an influential report about time allocation in the curriculum had the provocative title of Prisoners of Time. Sadly, geography is in danger of becoming a casualty of time. Second, many of the drivers of change are not unique to the United States. In many countries we see similar shifts in educational priorities leading to reallocation of time resources and a comparable emphasis on high stakes testing. We can see similar patterns of results as in, for example, the gap in performance between boys and girls. Given the results, and given the current education priorities, one of the implications of geography education that will take place before the next NAEP geography in 2014, time in the classroom is allocated on the basis of the subject’s perceived importance to the next generation of students. In geography’s case, the rationale has centered on a literate high school graduate who was able to meet the demands of citizenship. While geography begins with place location knowledge, the focus on understanding relationships between people and the environment is increasingly crucial in a world in which the local is connected to the global, and global events affect local places. Geography asks us to understand connections among people, places, and environment. As the economic and cultural forces of globalization and the impacts of global environmental change are felt by everybody everywhere, the case for geography seems obvious and inescapable. And yet, geography’s role in the curriculum is limited, at best static. That is ironic given the convincing case for geographic literacy. But is doubly ironic given a world in which adults and children have smart phones that can download maps on the fly, provide directions to places, and give your location to your friends. When are entering a world in which GPS, the global positioning system, is changing our ability to know about the locations of ourselves and of others. Online mapping sites, such as Google Earth, allow students to explore anywhere in the world as a map or satellite image, and to change the scale of the map or image. Behind websites that provide location information are geographic information systems, GIS, that manipulate geospatial data. Geospatial data becoming commonplace in activities ranging from getting travel directions to finding the nearest store. I hope to see a NAEP report in which there are illustrations of students working with computers, geospatial tools, and spatial thinking schools to solve problems not just in geography, but in biology, history, ecology, economics, and beyond. Thus, the grade twelve question on population density in Australia and Libya could be reframed using a GIS program. Students could be presented with a map on population density and asked to overlay it with one of a series of other maps, topography, climate, resources, in order to explain the pattern of population density. The geospatial revolution has radically changed our capacity to analyze, represent and understand our world. It offers powerful tools with applications not just in geography as a school subject, but across the entire curriculum; and equally importantly, in our daily lives beyond school. A high school graduate must be able to think spatially and understand how to use geospatial tools in ways that are appropriate and responsible. Geography is, therefore, increasingly important in understanding our world and in coming to terms with it. Its value goes beyond just fostering informed citizenship; it offers career and life-long learning skills and it allows us to answer that ultimate existential question: who we are is where we are. For those reasons, I hope that the next NAEP report will demonstrate progress in geographic understanding at all grades for all students. Thank you. I now turn things back to Dave. Thank you, Roger, and now we will address your questions during our question-and-answer session. We will open up the floor now and our facilitator, Amy Buckley, will take the reins from here. Amy? Thank you, Dave. And thank you to our wonderful panelists. For those of you who have questions about the results or our panelists’ comments, please submit your question now. As Jose mentioned, we ask that you direct your questions to all panelists. Also, please include your organization’s name when typing in your question. We intend to be mindful of everyone’s time, so if we’re not able to address your question during our time together today, please know that we will respond to you via email. Thank you so much for your interest in today’s release. Before we begin, I also want to note that we have two additional folks available to address your questions: Dr. Cornelia Orr, with the National Assessment Governing Board; and Dr. Peggy Carr, Associate Commissioner with the National Center for Education Statistics. Our first question comes from Larry Eggink, a geography teacher and assistant principal with Pella Christian High School. He states, in my teaching, I try to balance the physical and the human sides of geography, but it seems that the social, economic and political aspects of geography are becoming increasingly important to understanding the world in which we live. Do you agree? Dr. Downs, could you start us with that question please. Yes, I can. I think the simple answer is no. I disagree, and I’d like to explain what I mean by that. I think if you take a classic physical geography topic, something like world climate change, think how important that is, and think then about all of the discussions of the regional variations to the effects of global climate change, then you can start to talk about the effects of that change on agriculture, the effects of that change on environmental migrants. And so what you’re seeing is an interconnection between physical and human systems. You could reverse the picture. You could talk about the impact of human systems, industry, energy production, on global climate. I think the two are interlinked. And to the extent that we can make that interlinkage clear, then I think every student will benefit. Thank you so much. Our next question comes from Jerry Mitchell. He’s a research associate professor at the University of South Carolina, and we understand that he is joined today with ten students in a grad seminar he teaches, and all of these students are soon to be geography teachers. They’re interested in knowing how do findings become operationalized? Are there any plans in place such that if the results of NAEP are X, we should do Y? Dr. Orr, could you begin the response for soon-to-be-teachers, what should they do in practice with NAEP results? All right. Thank you, Amy. I want to make sure that the teachers on the call know about the assessment framework. If you’re teaching in a local school or state, you’ll probably want to compare your state’s standards to the NAEP framework. Understanding those two similarities and differences will help you better interpret the data from the national assessment because obviously we don’t have state or school-level data for this national-only assessment. So most of the action that’s taken is classroom-based action although there are some state actions that may occur after the release of one of these reports. That is examining, again, state standards compared to what is assessed on the national assessment. Does anyone else want to hazard a comment on that? Okay, great. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Paula Hutton, a Maine NAEP coordinator with the Maine Department of Education. She asks, can we tell how students’ knowledge of world geography compares to that of students in other countries? Dr. Buckley? Well, the short answer here is unfortunately no. What we do at SCS — the United States component of many cross-national assessments. Unfortunately our subject matter is limited to science, reading, and mathematics. And at present we don’t have — there have been for example, there was an international civics assessment, there have been a few other topics occasionally, but at present we don’t have a mechanism to assess geography knowledge cross-nationally. Thank you very much. Our next question is from Margaret Chernosky, a teacher of AP Human Geography at Bangor High School. She asks, do you see more interest in geography education being driven by the rapid advance of geospatial technology? Another person, Wayne Goodrich, and a few others had similar themed questions, what role is technology playing in geography education? Dr. Downs? Well, this is one that I give a resounding yes to, and I think it’s one of the really important things for the future of geography education. You’ve got a generation now who’ve got access to a whole series of tools that were unimaginable twenty years ago. I talked about downloading maps. I talked about going to maps on the web and changing them, manipulating them. Things that you couldn’t have done twenty years ago. You’ve got a group of students who are going into school used to doing this, wanting to do this, and what we’ve got to do is see that as a platform on which to build. And think about how you could plug that platform into other subjects in school. So on any one of the standard direction finding GIS sites, you can come up with alternative routes. You can choose to go the scenic route, or with the least number of traffic lights. That’s a way of allowing students to understand distance in different ways and comparing distance and something that could relate to mathematics. You’ve got the capacity on some of the sites to change the view from overhead to oblique, to change the scale of a map. That allows you to get into map projection. It also allows you to get into mathematics. You’ve got this access nowadays, good or bad, to have social networking to announce that you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time and your friends can know that. That raises some really interesting humanistic questions in ethics, and you can use therefore, it’s wonderful new technology as a way of building a new approach to geography. Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Downs. Our next question is from Cheryl Williams, Executive Director of the Learning First Alliance. She asks, how can geography instruction become an integral part of English language arts, history, civics, science, and the arts curriculums so it’s not turned into capes and bays or memorizing capitols. Ms. Garrison, as the educator, could you begin us off with that question? Sure. First of all, great question, Cheryl, it’s one that I struggle with all the time. I think many teachers didn’t have strong geography instruction themselves, so we need to emphasize that geography goes beyond places and names. Although my own geography instruction was weak, I find it intriguing to study the many geographical relationships that exist in our world, and students are equally as fascinated by the world beyond their immediate neighborhood. They love to learn about new places and different cultures, and students need to be given the opportunity to analyze the relationships between the environment and the societies that develop within it. They need to study the relationships between various peoples and cultures and make the connections between the location of natural resources and economic development. Geography is a rich subject filled with multitude of opportunities for higher-order thinking, and I think if teachers are encouraged to delve into geography alongside their students no matter their level of comfort with the subject, everyone will benefit. Teachers need to understand that geography provides the context for students to better understand whatever they’re studying. When reading literature they might ask themselves how the environment or setting affects the characters or plot, while studying history students can analyze why people chose to create civilizations in specific areas or countries — of a country. The possibilities are endless, and it provides students with meaningful ways to connect and go deeper into each subject, and I think once teachers realize the benefit of integrating geography across the curriculum, they’ll continue to teach in that way. Great. Thank you so much, Ms. Garrison. Our next question is from Radious Guess, Executive Director of National Kappa Kappa Iota. He asks, have you disaggregated the data by race, gender, grade and geographic location. If so, what were the results? For instance, I’d like to know how well eighth grade African-American girls performed in Oklahoma versus the same demographic of eight grade African-American girls in Boston. Dr. Buckley? Sure. So it’s possible to disaggregate the data along several variables. Somewhat ironically for the geography assessment, we actually cannot disaggregate it geographically, largely because this is a national example, we don’t have state representative data, so unfortunately I can’t directly answer your question. And it’s also possible I should point out, as I mentioned at the end of the presentation, we also have the NAEP data explorer on line so it’s possible to do your own analysis, you can do your own stratification of data by several variables. For example, you know, we can look at, by race ethnicity by gender, sort of a two-way stratification. For example, if we do that and we look across the three grade levels, we see, for example, for black students, there’s no significant difference in their scores between boys and girls at the fourth grade. There’s also no statistically significant difference between boys and girls among black students at the eighth grade. But at the twelfth grade, we see an average scale score among black male students of 264, which is significantly larger than the scale score attained — average attained by black female students of 258. So it’s certainly possible to — to cut the data several ways. Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Buckley. Our next question is from Susan Carson Lambert, a geographer with Earth Works and the Kentucky Geographic Alliance, and I’ll also add that there’s a heavy presence of the Geographic Alliance is joining us today, and this question was asked also by the Connecticut and Utah Geographic Alliances, and it is for Dr. Downs. What is the US definition of geographic literacy? How can we ensure that our children increase their geographic literacy as we head towards Geo Literacy 2025? I don’t think there is an official US definition although it’s not a bad thing to think about, but actually the place to go, I think, is the National Geographic Society’s website, the Education Division of NGS, has put out a statement about geographic literacy. And let me try to explain what it said, briefly. It looked at the classic questions that you’d expect somebody to be able to understand. Where something is, why it’s there, how did it get there, and what does that mean? If you hold those questions as the frame, then what the NGS site says is there are three abilities that somebody needs in terms of geoliteracy. One is the ability to reason scientifically about human and physical systems. The second is the ability to reason geographically. And the third is the ability to make decisions systematically. And so, geoliteracy gets that the basic geography question is built on three abilities. And my guess is that that’s going to become a definition which is not the official US definition, it is something that most people could live with and in fact find very useful. Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Downs. Our next question is from Timothy McDonnell, also of the New York Geographic Alliance. He says, our state education department is about to decimate the staff in charge of social studies. How can we get more geography in the classrooms in these difficult times? And actually Bonnie Crabtree with the Desoto Central Middle School sought to include a geography program but she was told there is no money to begin such a program; so in these difficult times, how can those advocating for geography begin programs? Dr. Downs, we’ll bring with you and then Ms. Garrison from inside the school view if you want to offer how you and your colleagues have approached this that would be great after Dr. Downs. Okay. Well, I’m going to do what I think a lot of other disciplines are doing, which is to try to get under the umbrella of STEM. If you think about science, technology and mathematics and think about what is argued for those disciplines. They’re talked about in terms of interdisciplinarity. They’re talked about in terms of rigor. They’re talked about in terms of real world application. I would argue that geography fits perfectly under the STEM framework. And if it does so, then that gives us an entrée into school systems that way. I think what we therefore have to do is to take advantage of that. And look for connections with mathematics, and then the other components of STEM. So I think that’s one way in which we can deal with this issue. Being an idealist, I’m hopeful that the educational world will soon realize their mistake and remedy the situation. As responsible world citizens we must have the knowledge, understanding and application of geographical concepts in order to make informed, rational decisions in the best interests of all parties involved. In the meantime, I’ll continue to emphasize the integration of geography across the curriculum. As a teacher at a school site, in addition teachers — the teachers I know are tired of being given specific programs and curricula to use in their classrooms and are dying to use their own creativity. It reminds them of why they went into teaching in the first place. So promoting geography as a subject where they have more freedom and can use their creativity in planning lessons may lead to more geography in the classroom. I know that’s one of the reasons I love teaching it. Thank you so much for those responses. Our next question is from Laura Bryant. She asks, does NAEP collect data on the geographic backgrounds and proficiency of teachers at grades four, eight, and twelve? Dr. Carr, could you address that for us? Absolutely. We have a question here for the fourth grade and the eighth grade, and so there is some data there, not for the twelfth grade. The geographic part of the question can be answered simply because we know where the teachers are located: the city, the suburban areas, and things of that sort. But the main part of your question pertaining to the proficiency level of the teachers is an interesting one. We don’t directly collect data that could say how well they’ve done on their teacher certification exam or things of that sort, but we do have information about whether they’ve had recent training in the area, leadership responsibilities in the area, whether they have a certificate. Whether they have a major or a minor in the area of social studies. These data are available on the NDE. Dr. Buckley mentioned it earlier, and it’s fun to explore these data. I can tell you that we’ve done a little bit of digging and it does seems to make a difference at least in a relational sense as to whether the teacher has a major or minor, their students tend to score higher than if the teacher does not. So I invite you to go to that part of our website and dig a little deeper into the data. Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Carr. Our next questions is from Clifton Ogle, State President of AFT Oklahoma. Clifton asks, do you feel it is important for teachers to know at least basically what you look for in knowledge on the test prior to teaching the course? Dr. Orr, could you address that question? I will. We do think about teachers in the classroom knowing what’s important to be taught in their classrooms, and so I’m a little bit confused about the knowledge on the test. Obviously NAEP is a survey-based assessment that occurs. It’s very broad-based and comprehensive, and so it tests many things that may not be expected of a single teacher at that particular point in time when the assessment drops into the classroom. So if your question is more aimed at testing the knowledge of teachers before they teach geography, I don’t feel like I’m really qualified to answer that question. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Karen Morgan, a teacher and Milken educator. She would like to know, what is the most impending need in preparing candidates for teaching education? Ms. Garrison, could you talk a bit about preparing teachers for sharing geography with their students. Sure. I think the most important thing is that beginning teachers need to learn how to effectively integrate subjects. In today’s climate of prescribed curriculum and textbook, it’s really easy to think of subjects as self-contained time periods, reading from eight to nine, writing from nine to ten, and this type of scheduling leaves very little time for social studies, art, music, PE, science, and it leads to a rushed quantity over quality instructional approach. As I mentioned earlier, the problem is even worse in middle and high school where a subject like geography become the unclaimed subject. There’s a math teacher, a science teacher, but who’s teaching geography? Despite the one class we all took in seventh or eighth grade, it’s unclear who has this responsibility. Brain research also reveals that the more meaningful connections a student makes, the deeper their understanding. If geography were integrated across the curriculum, students would have numerous opportunities to learn geographic skills and concepts in meaningful ways. And pre-service teachers need to see subject integration modeled, and have time to practice it themselves. And geography seems a perfect example of how a subject can be integrated across subject areas. Great. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Susan Griffin. Susan asks, would not the sample size need to be significantly larger to disaggregate data by state? If we were able to compare Florida students with Pennsylvania students, that data could inform policymakers and school leaders to strengthen instructions. Dr. Buckley? Short answer, yes. The sample size would need to be significantly larger to disaggregate data by state. So as I mentioned at the beginning of this presentation, for a given grade level our sample size here ranged between about 7,000 and just under 10,000 students. NAEP does assess some subjects with state representative and even urban district representative samples, in reading and mathematics at the fourth and eighth grade level, for example, and in those cases the sample size is closer to about a 160,000. So it’s a significantly more expensive and challenging undertaking to measure what we would need to in order to make those sorts of interstate comparisons. Great. Thank you, Dr. Buckley. And this will be our last question. Again, thank you so much for everybody who submitted a question. If we were not able to address it, we will respond to you via email. Our final question is from James Marran, a retired teacher with New Career High School. He asks, does there appear to be any correlation between the NAEP results and the National Geography Standards? Are the standards making a difference in student performance. Dr. Downs? I think the answer is yes, there is a correlation and it comes about in part because of historical accident. A group of people that worked on the developing the NAEP framework. Many of them worked on developing the National Geography standard so they’ve followed along. Essentially there are three NAEP content areas. And the geography standard tests six essential elements. The two map together pretty well and so you can make the argument that what NAEP is assessing in the schools is pretty well correlates in what is being taught, especially because the national geography standards, which are the basis of nearly all of the state standards that have been developed — I think there are state standards now in every state. So geography does reflect NAEP. And I think the geography standards have had a big impact if you look in terms of textbooks you can see them being reflected. If you look at the work of the geographic alliances, which are under the aegis of the National Geographic Society, they use the geography standards. I know from what geography is taught in many of the colleges of education, they use national geography standards. So the impact is definitely there. Great. Thank you so much. One quick note. I understand that James Marran was a member of the Framework Committee for NAEP in the early 1990s, so we’d also like to thank him for his involvement and thank everyone else who is involved in the hard work of developing the framework and assessments. Dave, that concludes the Q&A. And thank you, Amy, and thanks to all in attendance for your questions. Allow me just a few closing comments. First, visit our NAEP site at www.nationsreportcard.gov that will have not just this report but also various tools including data explorer to mine more information and the questions tool, which allows you to see all of the NAEP geography questions asked of students. Also if you go to www.nagb.org/geography, you will see a release page, with the press release, panelists’ statements and bios and other materials including the questions Shannon discussed. Second, if journalists have additional questions, please contact the Board’s public affairs specialist Stephaan Harris at 202-357-7504 or [email protected] Finally, we would appreciate your taking the time to complete a brief survey that will appear in a window when you end your session. In closing, I would like to thank Jack Buckley, Shannon Garrison, and Roger Downs for being with us today. And of course I would like to thank all of you for participating. Please be on the lookout for the next Nation’s Report Card release.

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