State Board of Education adopts new social studies standards
Board accepts state team’s recommendations
DES MOINES – Members of the State Board of Education today adopted new statewide social studies standards following an Iowa-led writing and review process that began more than a year ago.
The new standards represent the first update to Iowa’s social studies standards since they were adopted in 2008. Supporters say the new standards provide clarity that teachers have asked for, as well as the real-world knowledge and skills in social studies that students need for success in postsecondary education and in civic life.
“Setting clear and consistent expectations for Iowa students is an important part of preparing them for success,” said Charles Edwards, president of the State Board of Education. “I’m impressed with the quality of our new social studies standards, as well as the process that took place to draft, review and adopt them.”
The new standards outline what students should know and be able to do in social studies from kindergarten through 12th grade. The board’s unanimous vote was based on recommendations from Iowa’s Social Studies Standards Review Team, which convened this year to review draft standards developed in 2016 by an Iowa writing team.
To develop draft standards, the writing team used a framework created by a group of states, including Iowa, and endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies.
The Social Studies Standards Review Team then modified the draft standards this year based on broad public input, which included an online survey, public forums and teacher focus groups.
The review team finalized its recommendations in March and released a report to the State Board of Education in April.
The new social studies standards:
- Go beyond content that students should master, emphasizing the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that students need to be successful in postsecondary education and training and to compete for today’s most rewarding jobs.
- Weave in Iowa history and financial literacy, which were not reflected in the previous social studies standards.
- Outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level from kindergarten through eighth grade, rather than being organized by spans of grades. In grades 9 through 12, the draft standards are organized by content area within social studies.
The State Board of Education also accepted recommendations to ensure successful implementation of social studies standards, such as establishing a social studies position at each of Iowa’s area education agencies, providing teachers with ongoing access to professional development in social studies, and increasing statewide accountability for social studies education.
The social studies standards writing process was prompted by feedback that the standards needed improvement. A 2015 survey showed many Iowa teachers wanted clearer, more specific expectations.
The review of draft social studies standards was in line with an executive order signed by Gov. Branstad in 2013. Executive Order 83 called for a regular, transparent review of Iowa’s academic standards to identify areas for improvement.
For more information about Iowa’s academic standards, visit www.iowacore.gov.