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National History Day Works: National Program Evaluation

The first national evaluation of National History Day (NHD) finds that students who participate in the program perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers. Participants also show a greater ability to collaborate with peers, manage their time and persevere – all skills employers say are lacking in today's workforce.

"This research confirms what those of us who work with National History Day students have seen anecdotally for years. This program not only helps students improve academically, it can also change their lives. Students who are 'slipping through the cracks' of our education system find their way back and get on track to succeed in school while participating in NHD." – Cathy Gorn, NHD Executive Director

Some of the important findings include:

  • NHD students outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies, but in reading, science and math as well.
  • NHD students are better writers, who write with a purpose and real voice, and marshal solid evidence to support their point of view.
  • NHD students are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information.
  • NHD students learn 21st century skills. They learn how to collaborate with team members, talk to experts, manage their time and persevere.
  • NHD has a positive impact among students whose interests in academic subjects may wane in high school.