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Social Studies Curriculum

March 30, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary 

Social studies learning standards in Missouri, which are the basis of course curriculums, are developed by working groups and approved by the State Board of Education. Social studies is a broad term for curriculums related to human society including history, geography, government, economics, sociology. House Bill 2872 would require certain social studies classes to be taught in Missouri high schools and includes curriculum requirements. Additionally, state assessments in certain social studies classes would be required to consist of questions related to primary source documents (i.e., document-based questions).  

Highlights 

  • In Missouri, a 17 member workgroup develops learning standards recommendations for high school social studies that need to be approved by the State Board of Education. The workgroup consists of parents, political appointees, and education professionals recommended by various education-related groups. 
  • A study assessing document-based curriculums found positive effects on student historical knowledge, their abilities to relate this knowledge to contemporary issues, and their general reading comprehension from document-based lessons.
  • Most states tend to have specific curriculum requirements in state learning standards (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, etc.) as opposed to in statute.

Limitations 

  • Creating statewide assessments for specific subjects like U.S. History can be difficult if the tests are given at different grade levels because the cognitive abilities of students vary significantly between grade levels.
  • It is unclear if requiring document-based questions on statewide assessments would have positive effects for students without associated educator training on implementing document-based lesson plans.
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