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K-12 Geography Education Improvement Road Map Reports Available

Thursday, February 21st 2013
By Adena Schutzberg

The three Geography Road Map Reports put together by National Geographic, the Association of American Geographers, the American Geographical Society and the National Concil for Geographic Education with funding from the National Science Foundation are available from the National Geographic website. The subtitle of the effort: "A Road Map for Large-Scale Improvement of K-12 Geography Education."

The Project:

The Road Map Project brought together experts in geography, education, and research from across the U.S. to create a set of landmark reports focusing on key issues for educational improvement: instructional materials for students, education of teachers, assessment, research, and public attitudes. These road map reports will chart a course for the large-scale improvement of K-12 geography education in the U.S. 

Funded by a 2-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, this project responds to the growing recognition among business leaders and policy makers that Americans lack the critical geographic understanding and reasoning skills that will be required for careers and civic life in the 21st century.

Here's the 2011 press release from National Geographic. 

The Reports:

1) The Assessment Committee developed a framework for assessing progress toward geographic literacy from kindergarten through high school. 

My take: The bottom line: existing assessments do not do a good job determining if students know the material in Geography for Life, the recently updated geography standards for the United States. There's a suggested new assessment, a 21st Century Assessment Framework for the Geographical Sciences (AFGS21),

2) The Instructional Materials and Professional Development Committee makes recommendations about the design of instructional materials and the education of teachers. 

My take: Of the ten recommendations the two of most interest to me related to (1) preservice teachers being prepped to teach geography across the curriculum and across the K-12 time frame and (2) providing materials to teach teachers content (not just give them "teacher guides" through materials).

3) The Geography Educational Research Committee developed an agenda for educational research that lays out questions about learning, teaching, and educational change that must be answered to maintain the effectiveness of geography education into the future. 

My take: We need more research! "The report concludes with 13 recommendations to improve research in geography education and, thus, to develop a more geographically proficient and literate society." I just wonder from where research funding will come.

Other observations:

  • I found the reports, in a landscape mode PDF, very hard to read online. Perhaps they are meant to be printed out in booklet form? I sure wish there were in a more open format - especially since they were funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • I learned of the publication of these reports via NCGE's Facebook presence. I have yet to see any other discussion of them online. 
  • I'm curious how the four organizations involved will use these reports to spur action. I hope they will share those plans when they begin communicating to members and the public about the reports.

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