Fall 2000 Newsletter

High School Survey Results

Who's Teaching Geography in Vermont?

Earlier this year, the VGA conducted a survey of the geography curriculum at all 66 public high schools in Vermont.  Steve Niederhauser, a VGA Teacher Consultant from Thetford Academy, asked each high school in the state by telephone or mail whether they offered any upper level geography courses in grades 9-12, and, if they did, what kinds of geography courses were available.  The costs of the survey were paid by part of a National Geographic Society grant to support Local Geography Projects in Vermont high schools.

 

Survey Results:

Of the 66 high schools surveyed in Vermont:

           53% offer a geography course

           47% do not offer a geography course

Of the 35 high schools which do offer a geography course:

           11 high schools offer only a 9th grade course

            6 high schools offer only a 10th grade course

            3 high schools offer only one course that can be taken in either 9th or 10th grade

These schools, that only offer lower high school level courses, make up about half of the schools with geography courses.  Almost all of the courses cover world geography topics, with titles such as World Geography (7), Global Studies (3), World Environments, World Cultures, World Events, and Area Studies.  Two schools combine Vermont studies with world geography  One school offers only a 12-week geography component in its 9th grade social studies course.  About half of these geography courses are required for students in 9th or 10th grade.

           17 high schools offer at least one elective geography course to 11th or 12th graders

These courses are somewhat more diverse that those offered in 9th and 10th grades, including: World Geography (4), Human Geography (2), Global Geography, Global Studies, Modern World Issues, Geography of the Western Hemisphere, China and Russia Geography.  Many of these courses are one semester, and some are two semesters or full-block scheduled.

           3 high schools offer two geography courses

           3 high schools offer a course open to 3 or 4 grade levels

 

Of the high schools which do not offer a geography course, many responded that geography was imbedded in other social studies courses.  The degree to which geography is learned in these courses would have to be the subject of a separate, more detailed survey.