Due to financial constraints last year, the Maryland State Department of Education discontinued their high school government assessment test. Because of emphasis and requirements put on math and reading by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), social studies and science were somewhat forgotten and able to be de-emphasized when budget cuts in the state were required. The consequence of these cuts turned out to be a very low knowledge of social studies topics in primary and secondary education.

Thanks to new Maryland legislation, the state-mandated history and government test requirement will be reinstated starting with 2017 high school graduates. This test will be required for students to graduate from high school. In addition, starting in 2014, the law will require middle school student assessments in core subjects, including social studies. A statewide survey will study how much time high school and middle school students spend learning science and social studies and will explore whether classrooms have adequate learning resources. Another part of this survey will establish how many teachers are certified to teach social studies and science in the state of Maryland.

With a reduction of social studies in schools, Maryland students had little to no education in this field; in fact, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun, “A 2005 survey found that nine of ten Maryland elementary school teachers said social studies was not a high priority subject in their schools.” Some schools in lower income areas had no social studies at all. Most Maryland educators and legislators felt that it was important to bring emphasis back onto social studies. The only opposition to the new laws consisted of those who felt that sometimes legislators get too involved in education standards when it should be more localized boards of education that make pertinent decisions on curriculum content.

Unfortunately, financial issues will likely continue to affect educational policy, but Maryland’s new legislation shows that education remains critical in many people’s minds, and many will continue to fight for the importance of a well-rounded education for young Americans.

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