The California History/Social Science Content Standards
The California History/Social Science Content Standards reflect California’s commitment to history–social science education. These standards emphasize historical narrative, highlight the roles of significant individuals throughout history, and convey the rights and obligations of citizenship.
These standards proceed chronologically and call attention to the story of America as a noble experiment in a constitutional republic. They recognize that America’s ongoing struggle to realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution is the struggle to maintain our beautifully complex national heritage of e pluribus unum. While the standards emphasize Western civilizations as the source of American political institutions, laws, and ideology, they also expect students to analyze the changing political relationships within and among other countries and regions of the world, both throughout history and within the context of contemporary global interdependence.
These standards require students not only to acquire core knowledge in history and social science, but also to develop the critical thinking skills that historians and social scientists employ to study the past and its relationship to the present. The use of biographies, original documents, diaries, letters, legends, speeches, and other narrative artifacts from our past is encouraged to foster students’ understanding of historical events by revealing the ideas, values, fears, and dreams of the people associated with them.
The standards also emphasize the importance of enriching the study of history through the use of literature, both from and about the period being studied. Mastery of these standards will ensure that students not only know the facts, but also understand common and complex themes throughout history, making connections among their own lives, the lives of the people who came before them, and the lives of those to come. The statements at the beginning of each grade provide a brief overview of the greater story under study. The overarching statements in each grade and their substatements function as conceptual units: the numbered items under each overarching standard delineate aspects of the bigger concept that students are expected to master. In this way, teachers can focus on the concept without neglecting the essential components of each. The standards include many exemplary lists of historical figures that could be studied. These examples are illustrative. They do not suggest that all of the figures mentioned are required for study, nor do they exclude the study of additional figures that may be relevant to the standards.
In kindergarten through grade three, students are introduced to the basic concepts of each discipline: history, geography, civics, and economics. Beginning at grade four, the disciplines are woven together within the standards at each grade. The critical thinking skills that support the study of history–social science are outlined in the sections for grades five, eight, and ten. To approach subject matter as historians, geographers, economists, and political scientists, students are expected to employ these skills as they master the content.