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CCSSO chickens out. C3 framework work moves to NCSS

Okay. Chicken out may a bit harsh. But it’s a bit unsettling when the most well known organization drops out of the national social studies standards creation gig.

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a short piece concerning the difficulties involved with the creation of a national set of social studies standards. At the time, I was convinced that it would be difficult to create such a document. There would be just too many problems to overcome – the two biggest being that there would likely be a focus on easily measured specific content and no way for 50 different states to agree on what that content would be.

I was hoping for a focus instead on process and thinking skills rather than

 just a very long laundry list of specifics without any concern for thinking skills. So maybe . . . if the focus is on using information rather than on just a long list of dead guys without context.

What happened, of course, is that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) folks finished off the ELA and math documents, leaving the social studies work to continue in a sort of double-secret probation mode. Eventually much of the that secret work was finished and we were given a preview of the final social studies document last November.

It was just a teaser but it was enough to let us know that the final document would not include any real content but would instead focus on process and thinking skills. And it supported the work we had been doing in Kansas to re-write our state standards. So . . . cool.

The rough draft (also found  here) of the final national document, the Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards, came out earlier this spring. Some will be disappointed in the lack of specific content indicators but I like the direction the document is leading the discipline. Encourage high levels of doing and thinking while allowing local states and districts to create their own set of actual content.

So I’m not sure what it means that just recently the CCSSO announced that they were bowing “out of its role as the convenor of a group of states and organizations writing a shared social studies framework.”

The National Council for the Social Studies had been leading the conversation and will now finish the task of publishing the official and final national document. But without the CCSSO name attached, will the document get the same buzz as its more well known ELA and math siblings? Will states and districts still see the document for what it is – a game changer in how we should be doing our job?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good questions Glenn. I read and commented on the document during its creation, and like the current product very much. As you, I think the emphasis on thinking and inquiry is really what history and social studies are, or should be, all about. In early July there will be a meeting with future NCSS president Michelle Herczog, myself (2008 pres), NCSS executive director Susan Griffin and several of the writers of the document to discuss where we go from here.

    Any feedback or ideas that you or your readers would like to provide, I would love to hear!

    June 26, 2013
    • glennw #


      Glad to hear we’ve got some expert classroom practitioners on the case! It sounds like an interesting conversation – seems a bit late in the game to change much of the document. I would be curious to hear what, if any, connection NCSS may want to make with current NCCS Themes.


      June 26, 2013
  2. I’ve been looking for a social studies insider’s view on the C3 Framework and who should turn up? 🙂 I too appreciate the focus on process over content. I’d like to see model pbl investigations that really get at the promise of the CCSS and C3. (Know of any?) Ginger L and I chatted once about remodeling traditional SS units (like the missions project in CA, or Oregon Trail in OR) so they became real and rich pbls…

    July 17, 2013
    • glennw #


      I really like the C3 stuff too! The process things they’ve created seem to make it a bit easier to do the sorts of stuff you’re talking about. Would love to see what you come up with!


      July 19, 2013

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