June 6, 2006
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Virginia ’s academic standards in world history are among the best in the nation, according to a report released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The influential research and policy institute gives Virginia an “A” for its coverage of world history in the History and Social Science Standards of Learning (SOL) and praises the standards as “a model of clarity.”
The commonwealth was one of only eight states to receive an “A” from the Fordham Institute, and Virginia’s numerical score of 164 was exceeded by only one other state. Two-thirds of the states received a grade of “D” or “F” for world history in the report.
“Virginians understand the importance of history,” said Board of Education President Mark Emblidge. “The commonwealth’s academic standards are designed to produce thoughtful citizens of the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.”
“The quality of Virginia’s world history standards reflects the care that went into their development in 1995 and revision in 2001,” said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “The standards and supporting materials equip history teachers with the content and tools they need to engage students and bring the past to life.”
The Fordham Institute recognizes Virginia for exposing students to non-Western cultures in the primary years without adopting an “extreme multiculturalism” that treats all nations and cultures as equally significant. For example, the report praises Virginia for introducing elementary students to ancient Greece and Rome and the influence of these societies on the United States and its institutions while also presenting the West African Empire of Mali as means of exploring oral tradition and ancient trade routes.
The Fordham Institute rates Virginia’s treatment of Chinese civilization as the “most effective in the country” and praises the commonwealth for taking a serious approach to what the report calls the “oft-ignored” Medieval period. The institute rates the SOL as equally comprehensive in its coverage of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Age of Exploration. Virginia’s standards excel, according to the report, in their treatment of European colonialism and the responses of colonized peoples.
In evaluating Virginia’s academic standards for world history, the Fordham Institute reviewed both the SOL and the supporting History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, which details the essential knowledge, skills, and understandings that students must possess to meet each of the standards. Together, these documents define the commonwealth’s content standards for teaching and learning in history and social science. The review included the history and social science standards for grade 3 and the content standards for World History and Geography to 1500 A.D. and World History and Geography: 1500 A.D. to the Present.
In 2003, the institute gave Virginia a “B” for its United States history standards after a review that did not include the supporting curriculum framework. The institute later acknowledged the omission.
Read the full report, The State of State World History Standards 2006, from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.