Skip to content

Revised Kansas state standards – Next steps

A group of about 30 educators have been working on the revision of the Kansas state social studies standards.

A heads-up. They’re gonna look different.

Our goal has always been to move away from standards and assessments that encourage kill and drill types of instruction. Foundational knowledge is important but without knowing how to apply that knowledge, it’s wasted knowledge.

So our task has been to create a different type of social studies standards document.

The problem is how to create a set of standards that focuses on discipline-specific thinking skills that can be measured without ignoring foundational content. We’ve been down several paths and I’ve talked about that a bit here and here. It’s been an interesting conversation, one that has been pretty muddy at times.

But we think the process is getting a little cleaner. We’ve got an introduction with best practices and connections to reading and writing, a set of standards that focus on Big Ideas scaffolding through different levels of complexity, an instructional narrative that provides a broad overview, and a content outline that provides a bit more specificity (which is still blank and is being worked on). Not yet finished are planned lesson plan examples using the standards.

The idea is that schools and districts will focus on teaching historical thinking skills / habits of mind using foundational content to guide student thinking. We want to provide a framework of history stuff  for teachers without mandating specific pieces of content.

All of it is in rough draft form. Very rough draft form.

So . . . what I’m asking is – are we on the right track? Does the document make sense? What doesn’t make sense?

So rip it. Praise it. Make suggestions. We’re curious to hear what you think!

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mary Cronk Farrell #

    Hi Glenn,
    Thanks for sharing progress on this project. The document makes good sense. I think you’re on the right track (as a parent, not a teacher). I appreciate the emphasis on understanding historical events from different perspectives and relating them to contemporary issues.

    April 11, 2012
  2. The second link, the content outline… Ultimately, what happens with this in Kansas? Are you creating End of Course tests where this content is what gets tested? I may have asked this before, not sure. I like the narrative for the document, was this modeled after South Carolina? I think I remember seeing the categories before.

    April 16, 2012
    • glennw #


      Yes – several states, including South Carolina, have Instructional Narratives as part of their document. We liked that piece but wanted to add more specificity (that teachers are asking for) with the Content Outline. That is also changing after some conversation last week. The Content Outline will be laid out using the same chronological chunks that exist in the Instructional Narrative but broken into smaller themes – Ideas, People, Places, Events – with specific stuff under each of those sub-headings.

      The actual state tests will happen at 6th/8th/High School and will not focus on the content. It will focus on the Five Standards (Choices have Consequences, etc) and the four statements (we’re calling those Benchmarks) associated with each of those five Standards. It’s the analyzing, evaluating, investigating, etc that we want teachers to focus on and what will be measured by the state assessments. These assessments will be online and require writing – in our minds, hopefully something like a DBQ.

      The narrative and outline is really just hand-holding, giving direction to teachers, schools, and districts about scope and sequence. So while we do care about what content is taught, we care much more about what kids are doing with the content. Local districts will have a lot of freedom to pick and choose the specific content they will use to do this – using the Instructional Narrative and Content Outline as a guide. What we want to get away from is having teachers drill and kill only those pieces of content that they know will be on the MC test that is currently given.

      We still have work to do to make it much clearer about what we think is important – we’re leaning to some sort of intro paragraph on the actual page that lists the five standards. We suspect MUCH professional development will be needed when these finally come out.


      April 16, 2012
  3. I saw what Nebraska did and the push-back they received. Looking at the draft you posted, it seems like you might get the same push-back. For example, I did a search on “King” and Martin Luther King didn’t show up. Something like seems like the thing folks were mad at Nebraska about (not including Malcolm X or Ben Franklin). Just wondering if you’ve discussed that in your group. Seems like once people start listening to those concerns, and then adding a name here or there, you end up with a different type of document. I like what you’re doing and where you’re heading and worry that push-back like this could derail your efforts. Your recent post on knowledge in education reminded me of this…

    May 10, 2012
    • glennw #

      We have seen the NE document and the pushback. We expect sone of that. Mostly from groups like the geography and Econ people. But so far we’ve had good support from state board. We’ll see.

      We’ve changed the content outline even more, to just four themes – ideas, people, places, events. And tried to limit the number of things in each of those themes to ten. SO if there are five major units in eighth grade, there could be a total of 50 people listed, etc.

      We THINK we can get enough in to keep criticism down that way. But we are willing to battle for even less. We are comitted to process, not content.

      I think the real push back will from classroom teachers who will now have to teach with process in mind rather than drill and kill.

      It will be an interesting ride! We meet again today. Will keep everyone posted.


      May 10, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Suppose knowledge is not the goal of education « History Tech

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: