National History Day Evaluation Demonstrates Success of Program
Written by Auni Husted, MHC Program Assistant
Each year over 600,000 middle and high school students in all 50 United States—as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, and the Department of Defense and international schools abroad—participate in the National History Day (NHD). Maryland students represent about 3% of this total, with 18,000 students across the Old Line state taking part each year. NHD is the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded humanities contest for students. The organization, which is headquartered at the University of Maryland, College Park, has for the first time demonstrated the impact of this yearlong history research program with the national evaluation.
NHD recently released the findings of a study conducted by the independent research firm Rockman, et al. The study took place at four sites in the country (Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina and Colorado) with a sample size of 458 individuals—274 students who participated in NHD and 184 of their peers who did not. The research team examined performance on standardized tests (on social studies as well as other subjects), performance assessments, and asked students to rate their confidence in these skills and interest in past/current events. Key findings of the study, as reported in the Executive Summary, are below:
· 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.
NHD Executive Director Cathy Gorn said of the evaluation findings, “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.”
For more information about the impact study, go to the NHD Works website for the key findings, executive summary, and full report.
Tags: Maryland History Day