The Council for Economic Education strongly disagrees with the National Assessment Governing Board‘s decision to eliminate the assessment of economics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Economics has been assessed twice since 2006 and, while the gap between assessments has been greater than we would like, the findings have been important in helping to understand the state of economic education in the United States.
We encourage our community to voice its opposition to this decision, along with our statement below, to the following officials:
• Munira Mwalimu, Executive Officer for the National Assessment Governing Board: Munira.Mwalimu@ed.gov
• Your representative and senators: https://www.govtrack.us/
The Council for Economic Education (CEE), the nation’s leading non-profit supporting the teaching of K-12 economics, strongly objects to the recent decision by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) to remove the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in economics from its assessment schedule. This is a short-sighted decision that impairs our understanding in a critical subject area.
Our system of education in America invests billions of dollars each year helping our children master reading, writing and mathematics, which is essential. Yet we send them out into the world lacking the basic skills to prosper in life: an understanding of how to successfully navigate an increasingly complex economy, one where large-scale economic policy issues such as trade and labor-market shifts have profound small-scale implications for individual Americans. This lack of knowledge has potentially devastating ramifications. Americans currently carry more than $1.4 trillion in student debt; more than one-third of the population can be classified as financially fragile; and nearly 60% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Against this backdrop, the decision to cancel the NAEP in economics in 2022 is a clear signal that NAGB – and by extension the Department of Education, from where NAGB’s budget is derived – does not seem to think that these issues are priorities. Canceling the NAEP in economics is the equivalent of saying that the study of economics is not a worthwhile endeavor for our young people. Given the financial insecurity of many Americans, that is deeply troubling.
Gov. Beverly Purdue, chair of the Governing Board, noted in NAGB’s statement on the NAEP schedule, “We are ensuring that our students are assessed on the knowledge and skills they need to become successful citizens.” CEE could not disagree more. Without the knowledge and vocabulary of economics, students lack essential tools to create financial stability and opportunity for themselves and their families. And when families struggle, that has consequences for the communities where they live and for society as a whole. NAGB’s decision ensures that students are not assessed on the knowledge and skills they need to become participatory citizens.
NAGB’s announcement claimed that its decision was made in part to “create more actionable information.” In fact, the elimination of economics does the opposite, eliminating data collection from a core component – along with history, civics, and geography – of a complete social studies education. Incomplete information on social studies will not result in more actionable information, it will instead make less clear how to best proceed in ensuring students have the social studies education they deserve.
In light of this move by NAGB, CEE
• Urges NAGB to reconsider their decision, and to return the NAEP in economics to the 2022 schedule, as previously planned
• Encourages NAGB to put the NAEP in economics on a more regular and consistent schedule
• Urges Congress to increase funding for the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) so that appropriate resources can be put toward an assessment schedule that includes the full NAEP slate as originally planned, including testing economics in 2022
Absent these actions, NAGB, the Department of Education, and Congress will be short-changing America’s youth and America’s future.
Nan J. Morrison
President and CEO
Council for Economic Education