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2010 Geography Framework

Geography Framework for the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress

For more than a generation, geography has been badly neglected in American schools. The consequence is widespread ignorance of our own country and of its place in the world.

In preparing the content framework for this exam, the National Assessment Governing Board was guided by the conviction that a broad knowledge of geography is an essential part of a full education. This is particularly true at a time when the lives of nearly all our citizens are deeply affected by what happens throughout the world. The impact comes not only from political and diplomatic events, but also—and at times more powerfully—from the crosscurrents of an increasingly global economy.

With this in mind, the committees of researchers, teachers, and geography specialists who prepared the framework were charged by the Board to propose a rich and rigorous assessment design. In addition, the framework committees were asked to prepare preliminary descriptions of achievement levels that truly reflect world class standards.

The achievement levels describe what students should know and be able to do to reach Basic, Proficient, and Advanced levels of achievement in grades 4, 8, and 12—the three grades tested by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Under Governing Board policy, the expectations for these levels are high. The Proficient level represents competency over challenging subject matter.

To do well on this assessment, students will have to reach far beyond place-name geography, although they will be expected to know the names of many places with which they may not now be familiar. They will be tested both on knowledge and on analytic and problem-solving skills. About half of the testing time will be spent on multiple-choice questions. The other half will be spent on a variety of open-ended and extended-response items.

Thus, the assessment will provide important information as to where our students are and a far clearer notion of where they ought to be in geography. With its rigor and breadth, the assessment may well appear extremely challenging. We hope it will help schools, teachers, and students set their sights high.

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