National History Day Works to Combat Decline Identified in Latest NAEP Report on History Education

WASHINGTON, DC—National History Day® (NHD), the non-profit history education organization of record, is disappointed but not surprised by the results released yesterday in the 2018 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in Civics, Geography, and U.S. History.

In U.S. history, specifically, the NAEP assessment reported a lower average score for eighth-graders in 2018 compared to the average score in 2014. It also reported lower scores for students at all performance levels, except students at the highest percentile selected (90th percentile).

“The NAEP report identifies exactly what we have been working to address for decades,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “As a nation, we must work harder to prepare our students to study and value history as a key component in shaping their understanding of our country and the world.”

Through its mission and programs to improve the teaching and learning of history, National History Day addresses head-on the areas for improvement identified by the NAEP report. In fact, the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees and sets policy for the NAEP, featured National History Day in this video as a shining example of a successful model for studying and learning history.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman Jon Parrish Peede participated in the release of the NAEP report, and warned of the grave implications of historical illiteracy. He highlighted, however, the work of National History Day, which the NEH has supported since 1977, and NHD’s efforts to combat the trend identified by the 2018 NAEP scores. “Connecting students to primary source materials,” he said of National History Day, “the program fires the imagination and strengthens the intellect of its participants.”

More details and data from the 2018 NAEP U.S. History results may be found here.

About National History Day® (NHD):
NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, The Better Angels Society, Jacqueline B. Mars, and BBVA. For more information, visit

Rick Stoddard
Communications Director
Phone: 301-405-0536
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