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Social Studies

Social Studies Standards Revision Process

Content standards establish minimum expectations for the content knowledge and skills students should master at each grade level. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), with the State Board of Education (SBOE), are in the process of revising and collecting public comment on draft social studies standards.

The District of Columbia last revised its K-12 social studies standards in 2006, predating the existence of OSSE and the SBOE.

OSSE and the SBOE have been working since 2020 to review, revise and update social studies standards.

  • April 2020: the SBOE directed OSSE to review and update the District’s statewide social studies standards. To begin the review process, the SBOE convened a Social Studies Standards Advisory Committee (SSSAC) to develop a set of guiding principles for standards development.
  • November 2020: The guiding principles were distributed for public comment and then presented and approved by the SBOE in December 2020. The final set of guiding principles can be found here.
  • February 2021 – September 2021: OSSE launched the DC Social Studies Standards Technical Writing Committee (TWC) to review and revise the social studies standard. The TWC was comprised of experienced K-12 educators from public and public charter schools and social studies stakeholders. The TWC met regularly between February and September 2021 to develop an initial draft of standards.
  • September 2021- November 2022: grade-level leads from the TWC, with the support of a vendor partner, Opportunity Consulting, continued to refine and update standards to bring them into greater alignment with the guiding principles and best practices for social studies education.
  • December 2022: Experts in social studies education reviewed and provided feedback to social studies standards for quality, accuracy and effectiveness.
  • December 2022- January 2023: OSSE will hear feedback from stakeholders in Washington, DC to ensure that the standards meet the needs of educators and students in the District.

  

Revision Priorities  

Publishing a set of standards renews the District’s commitment to social studies education and establishes consistent expectations for all district students in public and public charter schools. A robust social studies curriculum is essential to increasing student agency and literacy and is key to creating inclusive school spaces in the wake of the pandemic. By undertaking this work, our goal is to empower our students to increase media literacy, become active participants in our democracy and have the skills to be successful in a 21st century information-driven society.  

There are important differences between the revised draft standards and the 2006 standards.  

Specific shifts in courses include: 

  • Grade 2: From Living, Learning, and Working Now and Long Ago to Ancient Civilizations  
  • Grade 4: From US History and Geography: Making a New Nation to American Foundations – First Nations through the Founding of the United States 
  • Grade 5: From US History and Geography: Westward Expansion to the Present to Foundations of Modern America 
  • Grade 6: From World Geography and Cultures to World Geography 
  • Grade 7: From World History and Geography: Ancient World to US History I: First Nations – Reconstruction 
  • Grade 8: From US History and Geography I: Growth and Conflict to Action Civics 

Additionally, the revised draft standards include media literacy as a key skill throughout each grade; focus on larger concepts and key themes, which enable educators to select the content that best supports their students in exploring driving concepts; promote an in-depth understanding of complex ideas, concepts, and skills; and incorporate multiple historical perspectives and a global understanding of history.

It is important to note that standards are not curricula or specific instructional materials used in the classroom. Standards define appropriate topics, skills and rigor for each grade level and establish expectations for assessment. LEAs use standards to establish scope and sequences for learning, lesson plans and unit plans to support teachers in delivering effective social studies content and learning experiences to their students. Following the adoption of social studies standards, OSSE will release supplemental guidance, including sample content and concepts, inquiry questions and supporting instructional materials for use by local education agencies (LEAs).

Public Comment

Public comment allows the community to provide input on the draft social studies standards before they are adopted by the SBOE. OSSE will use the input from the public comment period to consider changes to the draft social studies standards before submitting the standards to the SBOE for final approval and adoption.

Public comment is open from Dec. 16, 2022, until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2023. All comments can be submitted through the survey below.

If you are interested in submitting a letter, please use the survey link and select the option to provide feedback on the entire draft. 

View the draft social studies standards here.

For questions about social studies standards, please contact [email protected].