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Teachers want social studies assessment test

5:58 PM, Nov 9, 2010   |    comments
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"If we're making decisions based upon a state assessment, then there should be state assessments in all curricular areas," said Rossi, a social studies teacher at Wheat Ridge High School. "Don't exclude some and highlight others, because then you're distinctly sending a message that these core areas matter and these are secondary."

Rossi worries that because the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests don't include social studies, schools do not place an emphasis on it.

"Social studies curriculums have been relegated to a different status and sometimes even in some school districts, they've disappeared entirely," Rossi said.

The State Board of Education is considering the idea of adding a social studies assessment test. The board created the Assessment Stakeholders Committee to study this issue and others. The committee recommended that social studies continue without an assessment test.

"There are five subjects within social studies, it's big," said Jo O'Brien, assistant commissioner of education.

O'Brien is also the chairperson of the Assessment Stakeholders Committee.

She says committee members believe that a social studies assessment test would actually take away from learning.

"They were concerned that if we added social studies that that would add significantly to the amount of time that is taken away from the classroom," O'Brien said.

O'Brien says money is a factor as well. Creating a standardized test for another subject would cost money. She adds that politics can also cause problems.

"Whose history are we talking about?" O'Brien said.

Sierra Cordova is a sophomore at Wheat Ridge High School. Cordova doesn't like assessments tests like the CSAPs.

"I think the CSAPs are a pain and they just make kids freak out," Cordova said.

Cordova also believes administrators can measure how much students are learning in social studies in other ways.

"We have transcripts and stuff and so like they can look at the school's transcripts and students' transcripts and see their grades in social studies and the classes we don't have CSAPs in," Cordova said.

Some teachers and organizations such as Facing History and the National Council for Social Studies are fighting to have states like Colorado create assessment tests for social studies. The State Board of Education will vote on the issue during its Dec. 6 meeting.

"I think it's critical that students have a very strong foundation education on social studies topics," Rossi said. "I would love an end-of-the-year assessment."

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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