By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Three-quarters of eighth grade students in the U.S. aren’t proficient in geography and their test scores have shown no improvement since 1994, according to a new report by the General Accountability Office (GAO), an investigatory arm of Congress. One reason is middle school geography has an image problem: the stereotype of students coloring in maps and labeling state capitals. And that often leads people to ask, “What are you going to do with that?” said Benjamin Ofori-Amoah, chair of the Geography Department at Western Michigan University. Ofori-Amoah said the study of geography in middle school and beyond goes further than finding places on a globe, but many people don’t understand the importance of the subject. “Most of the time we get students coming into the major after they’re here and they take a couple of general education courses and they’ve realized that this is more than state names and capital cities and mountains and rivers.