Social studies important part of education
The following is a letter to the editor published in the Charleston Gazette from former WVBE member Pricilla Haden.
The West Virginia State Board of Education recently approved a plan to eliminate Social Studies standardized testing in all grades.
I do recognize the need for less testing. However, the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe test that is exempt from the ban on testing could be given to all eighth-grade students. This test is not given at the same time the standardized testing for Math and Language Arts. It could be possible to substitute the Golden Horseshoe test in future years and thus have some measure as to the Social Studies skills of our students.
In the spirit of transparency I want to admit I taught Social Studies classes for 28 years in Monongalia, Kanawha and Wood counties. I also will admit as a state member of the West Virginia Board of Education for 11 years I championed Civic Literacy. I was able to establish a Civic Literacy Council that served the state and the students for many years.
Civic Literacy has many definitions. In my mind, Civic Literacy includes an understanding of West Virginia History, American History, World History, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Geography, and Character Education. All these classes are interwoven.
Social Studies is as important as Math, Language Arts, and Science. I would add the Arts, however, this subject has never been tested. This does not make the Arts any less important.
Our students must have some sense of world, national, and state affairs. They must recognize what a unique democratic government we have in the United States. As an individual student each should understand our laws and acquire an understanding of right and wrong. It is sad to realize only 36.5 percent of West Virginia students were found to be proficient in Social Studies when tested in 2014. This means 63.5 percent really did not understand.
Only if testing is done in Social Studies will we know how our students are doing. The student, the parent, the teacher, the administration of our school, the county Boards of Education must be held accountable.
We must graduate responsible students and citizens.
Thus I close with please remember Social Studies in the 2015-16 school year.