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Introduction - K-12 Broad Goals - Vital Themes for the Study of History - References - Matrix

This framework is based on the significant body of research in social studies education, curriculum design, and effective instructional practices carried out over the past decade by leading councils, commissions, and organizations (see references). The Department of Education is committed to using the results of this research for systemic educational improvement and change. As required by RSA 193-C, this framework represents broad consensus among educators at all levels, business people, government officials, community representatives, and parents about what students should know and be able to do in the social studies.

What is the purpose of this K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Framework? In accordance with RSA 193-C relative to the New Hampshire Educational Improvement and Assessment Program (NHEIAP), the purpose of this framework is to serve: (1) as the basis for the development of assessment instruments to be administered, statewide, at the end-of-grades six and ten; and (2) as a guide for making local decisions about curriculum development and delivery.

As specified in RSA 193-C:1, VI, this framework does not establish a statewide curriculum with designated course offerings, teaching methods, or materials. It does establish educational standards that define what New Hampshire students should know and be able to do in the social studies. It is the responsibility of teachers, administrators, and school board members to communicate these standards to students and parents, and to identify and implement methods to enable students to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills. Curriculum decisions, including overall organization, specific grade-level and course offerings, and methods, activities, and materials, remain the responsibility of local educators and school board members.

What is social studies education? As set forth in the New Hampshire Minimum Standards for Public School Approval (Concord: State Board and Department of Education, 1993), social studies education is the study of related knowledge and modes of inquiry selected from history, the humanities, and the social sciences, including economics, political science, sociology, archaeology, anthropology, psychology, geography, and philosophy. Social studies education provides students with opportunities to acquire facts and concepts drawn from the chronology of our nation's heritage and the heritage of New Hampshire; the powerful ideas and experiences found in the history of the world; the disciplined perspectives of the historian, geographer, economist, and other social scientists; and the complexities of contemporary life. It also provides students with an understanding of the democratic principles and ideals upon which good citizenship is founded; familiarity and facility with the processes of inquiry and application used by social scientists; and the ability to use the knowledge, skills, principles, and ideals they have learned to make informed and reasoned decisions both as individuals and as citizens of the community, state, nation, and the world. Furthermore, as provided in RSA 186:13 and RSA 189:11, social studies education encompasses instruction in the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of citizenship and instruction in the history, government, and constitutions of the United States and New Hampshire, including the organization and operation of New Hampshire municipal, county, and state government and of the federal government.

How is this framework organized? In this framework, four social studies disciplines serve as the primary organizers. Each of these organizing strands--civics and government, economics, geography, and history--includes three major components.

Purpose. These narrative statements explain why it is important for students to become knowledgeable citizens who understand and appreciate America's heritage and culture as well as the geography, history, and systems of economics and government of the state, nation, and world. These statements also provide a context for the delivery of instruction.

Curriculum Standards. These end-of-grade-twelve standards logically subdivide each of the organizing strands into smaller units.

Proficiency Standards. These standards establish specific expectations for the assessment of cumulative learning at the end-of-grades six and ten and--in one instance, American history--at the end-of-grade twelve. Although these standards focus on the organizing disciplines, they incorporate proficiencies related to other fields of the social studies.

How will this framework be used? As set forth in RSA 193-C, this framework will be used at the state level to direct the development of assessment instruments to be administered, starting in May 1996, at end-of-grade six and end-of-grade ten. Specifically, the proficiency standards defined in this framework will be used by the Department of Education and the testing contractor as the basis for the ongoing development of social studies assessment instruments administered statewide. Broad-based content committees will participate in the selection of specific standards to be assessed. It is important to note that standards designated to be assessed at the end of a particular grade may also be assessed in an appropriate manner at a higher grade level.

Results from the statewide assessments keyed to the New Hampshire standards are reported to students, parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, and all other citizens so that informed decisions can be made concerning curriculum development and delivery, professional development activities and programs, instructional improvement, resource allocation, and staffing. The first round of results at the end-of-grades six and ten will provide baseline data that will be used to chart educational improvement over time. As a result, NHEIAP will also provide an effective measure of educational accountability at the school, district, and state levels.

This framework will be used at the local level, in conjunction with assessment results, as a guide for making decisions about the design of curriculum, the delivery of instruction, and the development of classroom, school, and district assessments. Educators, school board members,and citizens are encouraged to work cooperatively to develop local educational improvement and assessment plans that build on and complement the state effort. When designing curriculum, districts should keep in mind that the proficiency standards identified in this document are cumulative (for example, end-of-grade six standards are developed throughout the primary and intermediate grades). In addition, curriculum planners should take steps to ensure that students' understanding of the facts, concepts, skills, and processes presented in the proficiency standards is reinforced and extended in later grades.

NHEON is a collaborative project between the New Hampshire Department of Education and educators all across the state.

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