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Teaching American History with the Common Core

In a new research paper for the Lexington Institute, InForm's Dave Inman explores the impact of teaching American history and civics in schools that have adopted the Common Core State Standards, including an appendix with curricular resources for teachers. Executive Summary below. Full report here

Executive Summary

Students across the United States demonstrate an alarmingly poor grasp of the fundamentals of our nation’s history.  Now as 45 states are preparing to implement the Common Core State Standards, a major shift which has dominated most serious discussions about classroom content in education policy circles in recent years, it is unclear what the implications will be for teaching history.

The Common Core State Standards, a new set of content standards designed to clearly articulate what students at each grade level should master in English language arts and mathematics so that they can expect to be ready for college and careers upon earning their diplomas are mostly silent on American history and civics.  

How can schools achieve better outcomes teaching history under the new standards?  This will require educators and decisionmakers being proactive and not relying on the Common Core to provide these opportunities.  Recommendations discussed in this report include:

∙           State-level education policymakers must continue to develop and improve content standards for teaching history, especially when history is grouped within social studies or social science curricula.

∙           History teacher preparation and licensing practices should be strengthened to emphasize content knowledge in history.

∙           Opportunities to continue to assess students’ knowledge of history, especially at the state level where different policies and approaches can be comparatively evaluated, will be critical, especially in light of current, budget-driven freeze on future administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress for American History.

This report also includes a section describing selected classroom tools for teaching history, along with links and descriptions.

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