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Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

Definition of Social Studies
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

What's New

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise today released a draft of revised statewide standards for social studies and announced members of a new state team who will conduct a public review of the draft standards.

The draft standards, developed over the past year by an Iowa writing team, outlines what students should know and be able to do in social studies from kindergarten through 12th grade. The draft represents the first statewide effort to update Iowa’s social studies standards, which were adopted in 2008. A recent survey showed many Iowa teachers want clearer, more specific expectations than those outlined in the current social studies standards.
“Our social studies standards have room for improvement, and I appreciate the writing team’s hard work to develop new draft standards for Iowans to consider,” Wise said. “A new Social Studies Standards Review Team will now oversee the process of reviewing the draft standards. Our goal is to have clear, consistent standards that will help prepare Iowa students for success in school and beyond.”
According to the writers, the new draft 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 are not reflected in the current 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.
  • Embrace new research on best practices.

“We worked together with the goal of improving Iowa’s social studies standards in a way that challenges students to think critically, that connects learning to real-life situations, and that prepares students to be engaged citizens,” said Kim Heckart, a College Community School District teacher who participated on the writing team.

Laws and Regulations

281--Iowa Administrative Code 12.5(3) describes social studies instruction at grade levels 1-12.

Requirements for Teaching Endorsements in Social Studies

In Iowa teacher licensure is handled by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

The Iowa Core in Social Studies

The Iowa Core provides local school districts and nonpublic schools a guide to delivering instruction based on consistent, challenging and meaningful content to students.

Statewide Social Studies Leadership Team

Constitution Day

United States Constitution Day is September 17 of each year. Congress enacted legislation requiring all public schools to set aside one day during the week of September 17 to teach all students about the U.S. Constitution and about citizenship.

Consult these resources for ideas:

Constitute Project

United States Senate Youth Program

A program, sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, designed to give young Americans a working knowledge of American political life.

Social Studies Update Newsletter

The Social Studies Update is a monthly newsletter for Social Studies educators.

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Other Social Studies Resources


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 26, 2017 at 9:32pm.