Six states received A’s, while 18 other states received F’s.

PORTLAND (AP) – Maine received a failing grade in a state-by-state analysis of U.S. history curriculum standards that was released Monday.

The report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute gives Maine, along with Alaska, Arkansas and Wyoming, the lowest scores among 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Eighteen other states also received failing grades, while only six – Indiana, New York, Alabama, Arizona, California and Massachusetts – received A’s.

The Washington, D.C.-based Fordham Institute favors detailed K-12 education standards, and its grading system reflects that goal. States received points for using curricula that have clear historical chronologies and discuss specific events and people.

“Maine educators … have failed to provide any evidence of historical content or a cumulative learning sequence in their supposed U.S. history curriculum,” wrote Sheldon Stern, the report’s author.

In assessing Maine, the analysis looked at three documents.

Maine’s Common Core of Learning, issued in 1990, only alludes to American history in a few sentences, the report finds. And while the State of Maine Learning Results outlines major periods in U.S. history – the Progressive Era, 1890-1914, for example – it does not provide many specifics on what should be taught, the analysis adds.

In addition, questions given to students on the Maine Educational Assessment “do not inspire a great deal of confidence in the rigorous teaching of United States history,” the report finds.

Connie Manter, a social studies specialist with the Maine Department of Education, took issue with much of the report, including its assumption that U.S. history needs to be taught chronologically.

“We believe that students need to have a marvelous, I would say, mental map of the world,” she said. “How they learn that may be conceptually or chronologically, or both.”

Kathleen Porter, associate research director at the Fordham Institute, conceded that the report might be criticized for giving failing grades to nearly half the states, given the institute’s position on curriculum standards.

“We tried to be as objective as we could,” she said. “Some people might use other criteria. We think these are the best, though, for U.S. history.”

AP-ES-09-22-03 1752EDT



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