GENIP'S RESPONSE TO EDUCATION POLICY
Part of GENIP's mission is to work together toward shared goals to improve geography education learning outcomes for all students. To this end, GENIP members work together to respond to federal and state policy that impacts the quality of geography education in the United States.
RESPONSE TO CHANGES IN NAEP TESTING
Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) response to
the removal of Geography from the NAEP testing schedule
We are deeply disappointed by the National Assessment Governing Board’s decision to eliminate geography from the 2019-2029 National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) assessment schedule. This decision represents a true loss in longitudinal data collection for the education community, researchers, and education policy decision-makers.
The NAEP Geography assessment, conducted by an independent agency, provided valuable evidence to support geography education initiatives and to understand how well prepared our students are for a 21st century workforce, and in particular, a highly geospatial workforce and society. NAEP Geography results were cited by the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2015 report on K-12 geography education, which warned “…throughout the country, K-12 students may not be acquiring adequate skills in and exposure to geography, which are needed to meet workforce needs in geospatial and other geography-related industries” (GAO, 2015).
A deep understanding of geography is a valuable component of US students’ education and can contribute richly to their success entering a global workforce. Geographic understanding is an integral part of our day-to-day interactions, whether it is using some form of geospatial technology, considering the implications of geo-political events, or making decisions about where to live, what to buy, or how to vote. Geography prepares our students for many of the fasted-growing sectors of the workforce such as national security, disaster response, manufacturing, location analysis, health care, and resource management and conservation.2
NAEP Geography results have been used as a benchmark to track student learning and over time, have consistently yielded results that indicate U.S. students continue to fall short of adequate levels of achievement in geography. In the past, the results have helped the education community and policymakers understand the impact of decreased instructional time and teacher professional learning in geography, and also to provide critical information about what students do and do not learn in geography.1
GENIP acknowledges that when funding in education remains stagnant, or, worse, decreases, it becomes increasingly difficult to fund even the most basic assessments and education initiatives across many discipline areas. However, we regret this decision because of the important role geography plays in our everyday lives and the opportunity it offers our students as they prepare for college, career, and civic lives.
The U.S. government has included geography as a core academic subject in educational policy formulation for nearly three decades. Without future NAEP geography assessments, it will be difficult if not impossible to obtain nationally-representative data that can inform policymakers about the nation’s progress in providing high-quality and effective geography education to all young people.
In response to the NAGB decision, we urge educators, parents, community members, and other stakeholders to stay actively involved in national, state, and local decision-making, voicing support for geography education. Some ways to take action or stay involved include:
Contact your state and national representatives to voice your support for the value geography has in students’ lives.
Communicate your support for geography to local school board members and education administrators.
If you are a teacher, share the wonderful learning experiences that students have in your geography classroom, helping others to learn about and value geography too.
This statement was written and approved by the American Association of Geographers, the American Geographical Society, and the National Council for Geographic Education on October 7, 2019.
GAO, K-12 Education: Most eighth grade students are not proficient in geography, GAO16-7 (Washington, D.C., October 15, 2015).
GAO, Geospatial Data: Progress Needed on Identifying Expenditures, Building and Utilizing a Data Infrastructure, and Reducing Duplicative Efforts, GAO-15-193 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 12, 2015).