Skip to content

Kansas State Social Studies Standards in home stretch

I had the chance to spend some time this week working with the Kansas social studies standards review committee. Our task was to begin and finish the final review process of the state standards.

We’ve talked about the new state standards before. It’s been an exciting year and we’re getting close to the final state board presentation. The document is very different than our current set of standards with much of our work focused around the philosophy and thinking of people like Sam Wineburg. We also worked to incorporate the ideas embedded in the Common Core literacy standards for Social Studies.

The result?

A document that encourages the teaching of social studies process rather than social studies content. It’s this shift of emphasis that makes the new standards such a cool document for me. After 10+ years of focusing on specific and minute details measured by a multiple choice test, we’re moving in the opposite direction – asking teachers to focus instead on helping kids to analyze, investigate, evaluate, justify, construct, and create.

What does it mean?

Two things. A totally different type of test and some uncomfortable classroom teachers. Both will require perhaps more work to fix than it took to create the new standards document itself.

Test creation is already in the works. Using an online writing tool, we will bank a ton of primary and secondary documents available to teachers and students throughout the year. A series of writing prompts will be created for each standard and course unit. When taking the test, students will select a prompt, access the documents, and create a pre-writing outline highlighting which documents they plan to use and how they will be used. This outline will be scored with a rubric. Students will then write a formal response to the prompt, using their pre-write document. This response will also be scored with a rubric.

The cool thing is that while these tests will be used at the state level, teachers can also score them at the classroom level. It’s this ability to have both summative and formative data that I really like. Obviously much work is needed on that piece – selecting documents, writing rubrics, creating prompts – but this is so much better than a multiple choice test.

The second thing about uncomfortable teachers is a whole other issue. We understand that asking teachers to teach this way will cause some problems. We know that a few teachers may choose to continue to teach in a “traditional,” stand and lecture style. But we also know that many teachers are more than ready for this sort of document. They will require some serious professional learning to help them understand what all of this looks like in the classroom and how to go about putting the document’s ideas into practice.

The good news is that the pendelum has shifted. Memorizing content is not good enough anymore. We’re moving in the right direction.

We didn’t finish our review, by the way. We had some great conversation and we made some changes. But more work remains.

Wanna help? Download the Mission Purpose and Standards. It’s the series of Benchmarks listed under the Standards that will be tested. Get a sense of the philosophy of the document. (This document does not reflect changes made this week. Some serious editing still remains.)

Then download the 8th grade Instructional Narrative and Content Outline. Every grade and course has one. These outlines provide guidance to teachers only and do not include any content that teachers are mandated to teach. The 8th grade has been edited and gives you an idea of the look and feel of what other outlines will look like.

Finally, download the course or grade you teach. These are much rougher and do not include any of the changes made this week.

Tell us what you think. A little extra help is a good thing!

(Sorry. The 1st grade draft is not ready to share yet!)

Download Kindergarten
2nd Grade
3rd Grade
Download 4th Grade
Download 5th Grade
Download 6th Grade
Download 7th Grade Geography
Download 7th Grade Kansas History
Download High School Geography
High School World History
Download High School U.S. History
Download High School U.S. Government
Download High School Economics
Download High School Psychology
7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Glenn! Where’s 8th grade? So excited about the changes…

    September 26, 2012
    • glennw #

      Glad you’re excited. We are too!

      The 8th grade link is embedded in the text of the post a few paragraphs above the full list. It is one of the few course level documents that is mostly edited already with the “final” look and feel – so that’s a good one to start with when looking at the document so you can get a better sense of final document.


      September 26, 2012
  2. Adam Topliff #


    Your comments are right on the money! This shift is something I have been looking forward to for years. It it time to help our students become critical thinkers and not Jeopardy responders. Looking forward to the challenges ahead, but they are challenges that are for the good.

    September 26, 2012
  3. I would strongly recommend creating a wiki like this one: for your standards.
    Every state should have them.

    December 16, 2012
  4. Nancy Brockmeier #

    I am unable to open the 5-7 grade drafts! Any suggestions?

    April 2, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. History Geek Week Day Three: Beyond the Bubble and the new world of social studies assessment | 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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: