What’s the latest on state social studies standards? We’ve checked in around the nation, and we have updates. Maine, Alaska, and West Virginia will issue draft social studies standards soonest. The Civics Alliance will read and comment …

State Social Studies Standards: What’s Been Done, What’s Coming Up

The Civics Alliance has had a busy 2023 commenting on and critiquing state social studies standards. We started off the year with a long report on Rhode Island’s draft social studies standards (terrible, and they made only cosmetic fixes to the final draft). We’ve commented since on entire social studies standards in Colorado (should be changed substantially), South Dakota (excellent), Virginia (excellent), New Mexico (insufficient), Arkansas (mixed), Tennessee (some good, could be improved), and Indiana (some good, could be improved), as well as criticizing the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) new “Social Studies” Definition (terrible) and providing positive comment on Florida’s new African American History Strand.

We noted but did not comment on the District of Columbia’s new social studies standard (terrible)—there seemed no realistic chance of changing the standard, and we decided not to make a statement just for the sake of making a statement.

So what’s coming up?

  • PRIORITY: Maine. Maine’s Department of Education is in the final stages of preparing its draft  revised social studies standards, and will probably release them in early October 2023. There will be a public comment period in early October. We will read the draft ASAP and prepare comment.
  • Alabama: Revision process scheduled for 2024-2025. We are keeping tabs.
  • Alaska: Alaska’s Department of Education contracted with the American Institutes for Research to provide draft social studies standards. These draft standards are scheduled to be submitted to the State Board of Education and posted for public comment in March of 2024.
  • Arizona: Revision process scheduled for 2024-2025, but apparently they have not yet started work on this.
  • California: Revision of the History-Social Science Framework delayed until state legislature appropriates funds. No current legislation to revise the social studies standards.
  • Connecticut: Connecticut was supposed to complete their social studies standards revision early in 2023. This seems to have been delayed indefinitely; we are inquiring about their schedule.
  • Idaho: Idaho’s revision, as Connecticut’s, appears to be AWOL. We are investigating.
  • Louisiana: The Louisiana Department of Education will release its Bayou Bridges: K-8 LA Social Studies Curriculum by June 2024.
  • Montana: Montana is scheduled to begin a new revision cycle in 2024. We are investigating.
  • Oregon: Oregon’s revision proceeds slowly. We are investigating.
  • Oklahoma: Revision process scheduled for 2024-2025. We are keeping tabs.
  • Oregon: Oregon’s revision also proceeds slowly. We are investigating.
  • Utah. Utah approved new K-6 standards in December 2022, for implementation in the 2024-2025 school year. As of now, they do not plan to revise their 7-12 standards until they next revise their K-6 standards, ca. 2029.
  • West Virginia. Social studies standards will be reviewed through January 2024, and presented to the State Board of Education in April 2024.
  • Wisconsin: Revision process scheduled to begin in 2024. We are keeping tabs.
  • Wyoming: Revision process will begin no earlier than Spring 2024.

If you have news we don’t please write in and say! – but as far as we can tell, that is the state of play for the present moment. Priorities, in other words, are Maine, Alaska, and West Virginia, all of which should produce draft social studies standards by April 2024.

Education Reform Around the Nation 

  • Freedom in EducationFreedom in Education, strongly aligned with the Civics Alliance’s vision, is now up and running! If you’re interested in hands-on work to reform civics education, take a look at what they do and get in touch with them.
  • 2026 Civics Lesson Plans: Constitution Day: The Educated Citizen Project will begin its model Civics Standard suite of lesson plans (see below) with Constitution Day lesson plans for the 2nd grade, 5th grade, and high school. Anyone interested in working as a volunteer curriculum designer for civics lesson plans should get in touch with me, to be in touch with the Educated Citizen Project.
  • Colorado: The Independence Institute interviewed Ken Witt, Superintendent of the Woodland Park School District, about what is necessary to make real educational change in a community. Witt included a fair amount of time talking about the Civics Alliance’s American Birthright social studies standards, which Woodland Park adopted. Witt provides a good model about how to speak smoothly in public about education reform in general, and about the American Birthright standards in particular. A note: when he says that American Birthright standards don’t stand alone, this is probably a reference to the fact that Woodland Park also must meet Colorado state social studies standards.
  • American Birthright, Upcoming Religion Revision: We will be revising American Birthright to include thickened material on religious history, in 9th grade (religion in the 18th-20th centuries in Europe) and 11th grade (religion since 1865 in America).

2026 Civics Curriculum 

The Civics Alliance’s Missouri state affiliateThe Educated Citizen Project (ECP), has begun the first stage of its 2026 Curriculum (draft title). ECP will build out from the American Birthright civics standards to provide a curriculum map and a full series of lesson plans, available free of charge for the public. The 2026 Civics Curriculum (draft title also) will provide a model for further initiatives to create curriculum maps and lesson plans for each of the individual grade standards in American Birthright. Standards and lesson plans will work together: lesson plans will encourage states and school districts to adopt American Birthright, and American Birthright standards will encourage teachers to adopt these lesson plans. The ECP initiative deserves enthusiastic applause from all social studies reformers.

More immediately, the ECP initiative welcomes support. It needs 5–10 curriculum designers, who should have at least five years of experience teaching high school social studies, including government/civics classes. For the moment, since the ECP initiative has just begun, it is unfunded, so these would have to be volunteers for now. The ECP initiative therefore would also welcome funding, above all to provide honoraria for curriculum designers! Please email David Randall and/or Mary Byrne if you have suggestions about either curriculum designers or funders.

Providing standards and lesson plans is still only the beginning of our campaign. We must craft textbooks, professional development, and more. But the pieces are falling into place, one by one.

Civics Alliance Now Has Ten State Affiliates 

The Civics Alliance is building a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their states, whom we will list on our website. Our newest state affiliate is Nebraska, run by Dennis Applegarth. Welcome, Dennis and Nebraska! We now have ten affiliates, in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. If you would like to form such an organization, or suggest an existing organization, please get in touch with David Randall (randall@nas.org).

Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting

The Civics Alliance will have its monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Monday, October 2, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Please email randall@nas.org if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.

Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule 

 2023: Maine

2024/Current: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky (partial), Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

2025: Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas

2026: Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina

2027: Hawaii, Kansas

2029: Louisiana

2030: Minnesota

2031: Illinois

No Revision Currently Scheduled: California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington

Please email David Randall (randall@nas.org) if you are interested in further information about your state’s social studies revision process, and what you can do to participate.

Continuing Priorities: Federal Legislation 

At the federal level, the Civics Secures Democracy Act threatens to impose action civics nationwide.

The Civics Bill Tracker 

Civics Alliance members may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.

Public Action 

We encourage Civics Alliance members to inform the public and policymakers about the stakes and consequences of action civics bills.

David Randall is Executive Director of the Civics Alliance and Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.

Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash