Many Children Still Don't Know Much About History

 A student in Ms. Newman''s third grade class reads a book during summer school July 3, 2001 at Brentano Academy in Chicago.
A student in Ms. Newman''s third grade class reads a book during summer school July 3, 2001 at Brentano Academy in Chicago. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

"Less than one-quarter of students perform at or above the 'proficient' level in 2010," according to the new National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The good news: "At all grades, the average U.S. history scores in 2010 were higher than the scores in 1994, and the score for eighth-graders was also higher than in 2006."

The bad news: "Less than one-quarter of students perform at or above the 'proficient' level in 2010."

That's the word this morning from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, part of the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

Students are judged to have "basic" skills if they have "partial mastery of the knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade."

They're said to be "proficient" if they can boast "solid academic performance." A proficient fourth grader, for instance, would know that "canals increased trade among states."

"Superior performance" earns an "advanced" rating.

Want to see if you're smarter than a fourth, eighth or 12th grader? Sample questions are posted here.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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