As regular readers know, I have a number of concerns with the current draft of Kentucky’s social studies standards revision. The standards seem overly general and vague, leaving teachers, curriculum developers and test writers to guess about what is really to be included, and at what grade.
One of the areas of my greatest concern is the coverage, or maybe I should say the lack of coverage, of topics in Geography. Ironically, the draft mentions a pretty good model geography standard from the National Geographic Society, on page 8, but hardly any language from the NatGeo model actually appears in the draft standards. Among other things, I think the discussion about what our kids are supposed to learn about maps is particularly vacuous.
And, a Tweet today from the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), brought that home to me.
This NAEP Grade 4 question requires students to know something about different types of maps.
But, will our vague draft standards, which only have related requirements like the following through Grade 4, insure our kids can handle the NAEP question?
Kindergarten: K.G.GR.1 Create maps of familiar areas such as the classroom, school and community.
Grade 1: 1.G.GR.1 Create geographic representations to identify the location of familiar places, and organize information regarding familiar places at different scales.
Grade 2: 2.G.GR.1 Examine geographic features of places in North America using a variety of geographic data including maps, photos and other geographic tools.
Grade 3: 3.G.GR.1 Explain how physical and cultural characteristics of world regions affect people using a variety of maps, photos and other geographic representations.
Grade 4: 4.G.GR.1 Analyze how location and regional landforms affect human settlement, movement and use of various national resources using maps, photos and other geographic representations.
Sure, these very general standards mention maps, but what kinds of actual maps MUST be studied?
Will students be able to tell the difference between the four different kinds of maps the NAEP clearly believes students should be familiar with by Grade 4?
Can you clearly determine at which grade the standards require students to learn about elevation mapping?
These are the kinds of questions good standards must answer. Does the draft get us there?