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Study examines small schools teaching of Social Studies

A study conducted by Social Studies professors Margaret Smith Crocco and Stephen J. Thornton has concluded that New York City's small high schools are not providing a social studies education with enough depth to prepare students to be fully informed citizens.

A study conducted by Social Studies professors Margaret Smith Crocco and Stephen J. Thornton has concluded that New York City's small high schools are not providing a social studies education with enough depth to prepare students to be fully informed citizens. While the study does go on to say that smaller schools do achieve a more caring environment than traditional schools and engage disadvantaged students better, their curriculum approach is a less is more philosophy that does not apply well to social studies.

The report says that small high school may eschew topics like the Civil War and World War I for topics that may be more interesting to urban and minority students. It says that social studies sometimes suffers when integrated with other humanities curriculums.

The release of this study coincides with a movement in small high schools against the state Regent's tests, which they say is a too sweeping and fact-based.

Dr. Crocco said that she agrees that the state is placing too much emphasis on testing. But she said her report was intended to warn that small schools might have gone too far in the other direction.

"I want to put myself somewhere in between where the Regents are with this comprehensive sweep or survey approach, which is sometimes parodied as the Plato-to-NATO approach in world history, and where the colleges are, where a history major at a very good college can come out knowing everything about the Vietnam War but nothing much about any other important period in American history," Dr. Crocco said.

The article, entitled "Study Faults Small Schools on Social Studies" appeared in the April 10th edition of the New York Times.

When possible, the News Bureau provides a link to article summaries, a link is always provided to the online source. Not all online sources archive information and some charge a fee for older material.

Published Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2002

Study examines small schools teaching of Social Studies

A study conducted by Social Studies professors Margaret Smith Crocco and Stephen J. Thornton has concluded that New York City's small high schools are not providing a social studies education with enough depth to prepare students to be fully informed citizens. While the study does go on to say that smaller schools do achieve a more caring environment than traditional schools and engage disadvantaged students better, their curriculum approach is a less is more philosophy that does not apply well to social studies.

The report says that small high school may eschew topics like the Civil War and World War I for topics that may be more interesting to urban and minority students. It says that social studies sometimes suffers when integrated with other humanities curriculums.

The release of this study coincides with a movement in small high schools against the state Regent's tests, which they say is a too sweeping and fact-based.

Dr. Crocco said that she agrees that the state is placing too much emphasis on testing. But she said her report was intended to warn that small schools might have gone too far in the other direction.

"I want to put myself somewhere in between where the Regents are with this comprehensive sweep or survey approach, which is sometimes parodied as the Plato-to-NATO approach in world history, and where the colleges are, where a history major at a very good college can come out knowing everything about the Vietnam War but nothing much about any other important period in American history," Dr. Crocco said.

The article, entitled "Study Faults Small Schools on Social Studies" appeared in the April 10th edition of the New York Times.

When possible, the News Bureau provides a link to article summaries, a link is always provided to the online source. Not all online sources archive information and some charge a fee for older material.

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