From the News column of the September 2004 Perspectives
TAH Project Directors Meet
Noralee Frankel, September 2004
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement held its annual Teaching American History Program Project Directors' Meeting in May 2004 in Washington, D.C. Four hundred and seventy-five people attended the two-day meeting. The Department of Education staff organized sessions for the first day on "Themes in American History," on the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, local/ state history, professional development, history standards, and web sites.
One of the topics of interest to the attendees was evaluation. Mary Beth Donnelly of SRI International gave an update on the national evaluation of the TAH programs. SRI International is evaluating the effectiveness of the process used by TAH projects by (1) a literature review of current research and policies on teaching and learning American history, (2) a survey of all TAH project directors, (3) a survey of a sample of teachers participating in TAH project activities, and (4) a systematic collection and analysis of the training materials produced by a sample of TAH grantees. A well-attended breakout session on evaluation suggested methods to evaluate individual programs.
On the second day, regional breakout sessions stressed the importance of collaboration between the university faculty, public historians, and K–12 teachers. While such cooperation often worked well, project directors voiced complaints about university faculty's solely lecturing to teachers rather than engaging with the teachers. The final sessions involved history resource providers from the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Library of Congress.