Seventy-three percent of American eighth graders tested below the proficiency level in geography last year, according to a report to Congress by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Analyzing nationally representative test data from the U.S. Department of Education, GAO found that only 27 percent of eighth graders nationwide scored at either the proficient (24%) or advanced (3%) level on standardized geography tests in 2014.
Nearly half (48%) exhibited only partial mastery of the subject, and a quarter (25%) scored below basic competency on the geography tests.
The 2014 results showed virtually no improvement since 1994, when 4 percent of eighth graders tested at the advanced level, 24 percent at the proficient level, 43 percent at the basic level, and 29 percent were below basic competency, the GAO reported, even as Americans become increasingly dependent on location-based technologies such as GPS (global positioning system).
“Geography is generally taught as part of social studies, but data show that more than half of eighth grade teachers reported spending a small portion (10 percent or less) of their social studies instruction time on geography,” the report to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Humans Services, Education, and Related Agencies stated.