Wednesday, April 17, 2013

State Board adopts news standards for History, Government and Social Studies

The State Board of Education today adopted new standards for History, Government and Social Studies that put an emphasis on the development of practical skills in the areas of history, government, civics, economics and geography.

In presenting the standards to the State Board, Don Gifford, education program consultant for social studies at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), explained that one of the objectives of the standards writing committee was to move beyond simple recitation of facts or memorization of discreet bits of information to developing habits of mind that encourage the application of knowledge in real-life situations.

“One of the objectives of history, government and social studies instruction is to create good, participative citizens. Good citizenship requires the ability to innovate, analyze complex problems, ask cogent questions, assemble and evaluate critical data, and seek creative solutions,” Gifford said. “In our schools, we must go beyond simple recitation of foundational information and instead encourage the application of that information in authentic and realistic situations.”

The new standards consist of five standards statements that apply at varying levels of complexity at all grade levels.

Those standards are: choices have consequences; individuals have rights and responsibilities; societies are shaped by beliefs, ideas and diversity; societies experience continuity and change over time; and relationships among people, places, ideas and environments are dynamic.

A 36-member committee comprised of K-12 educators, including teachers, administrators and district staff; as well as post-secondary educators, policy makers and community members, worked for 20 months to develop the new standards.

With the Board’s approval, implementation can begin immediately as districts start the process of determining how the new standards will impact instruction.

KSDE will begin providing professional development around the standards during the summer months, and opportunities for curriculum and professional development will be made available throughout the 2013-2014 school year.

A team has been formed to begin working on an assessment aligned to the new standards.