History-Social Science in the Age of Standards
Burstein, Stanley, Social Studies Review
It has been almost fifteen years since the Social Studies Review devoted a special issue to the teaching of History. That issue came at the beginning of the revolution in the teaching of History-Social Science in California school caused by the adoption of the History-Social Science Framework in 1987. As we all know, the Framework changed Social Studies instruction fundamentally, making History the focus of the Social Studies curriculum and substituting two three year course sequences for the survey courses that previously dominated the curriculum. The eight articles in that issue explored how to implement the Framework's World History curriculum, but even as they were being written a second and even more far reaching revolution was in the making: the standards revolution.
The concept of standards is deceptively simple. Unlike frameworks, which confine themselves to laying out general goals for curriculum development and instruction and leave school administrators and teachers broad latitude in determining how those goals are to be achieved, content standards are inherently prescriptive. They mandate specific educational outcomes that can be assessed. History standards take the form of model curriculum outlines in which each item is defined in terms of a desired outcome. Demonstration of that outcome in prescribed by statements such as "Students will be able to describe, analyze, or compare, etc."
The impetus for the development of content standards in History-Social Science was the recommendation of the 1989 Governor's Conference that voluntary national standards be developed in five core subject areas including History. The story of what followed is familiar. Decisions about what children are taught about their country's past and place in the world are political by nature. When the National History Standards were overwhelmed by a partisan political firestorm, California like many other states stepped in and filled the gap by creating the California Commission for the Establishment of Content and Performance Standards. Work on the History-Social Science Content Standards was complete by late summer 1998 and on October 9,1998 the State Board of Education adopted them, thereby providing California for the first time with a detailed statewide History-Social Science curriculum.
In the five years since the adoption of the History-Social Science Content Standards social studies instruction in California has changed dramatically. Throughout the state school districts modified curricula in order to bring them into alignment with the standards. Teachers revised their classes to ensure "covering the standards" and the "standard of the day" became a familiar sight in the state's classrooms. Nor were the changes confined to classroom instruction. Although the standards commission did not issue performance standards before dissolving, a new series of legislatively authorized tests aligned with the content standards-the STAR tests-administered annually in grades eight, ten, and eleven were developed to facilitate assessment of schools districts' effectiveness in implementation of the standards. Finally, the standards revolution also redefined the relationship of the state's public schools and universities. Courses and teacher preparation programs were revised to align them with the standards and teachers and university faculty have been brought together in a new alliance to improve the education of California's children.
The jury is still out on the ultimate significance of the standards revolution. However, each year more and more teachers are being exposed to standards and an increasing number of publishing companies write exclusively to them. Many of the authors of the ten articles in this special issue of the Social Studies Review have been intimately involved with its various phases and, their essays provide a revealing progress report on its prospects.
THINKING HISTORICALLY: CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PAST
A major innovation of the California History-Social Science Framework that was maintained in the Content Standards was its insistence that how students learn was as important as what they learn. Linda Symcox, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at California State University, Long Beach, surveys in her article scholarship on historical thinking since the publication of the Framework, using an exercise concerning the Freedman's Bureau to illustrate the potential of this scholarship for enhancing History-Social Science instruction.
A STORY WELL TOLD: PRIMARY SOURCES AND HISTORY EDUCATION
All good history is based on primary sources, and teaching students how to critically evaluate and use them is central to pedagogy as envisioned in the History-Social Science Framework and the Content Standards. In their article Kurt Ankeney, Merrelll Frankel, and Rebecca Whisner demonstrate how teachers can use primary sources to achieve the Framework's goal of teaching history as "a tale well told" and provide a variety of examples of their effective use.
GEOGRAPHY IN HISTORY EDUCATION: EFFECTIVE INTEGRATION STRATEGIES AND EXAMPLES
One of the characteristic features of the California History-Social Science Framework was the integration of History and Geography. That integration was retained in the History-Social Science Content Standards but neither document provided teachers with guidance on how to achieve that integration. In his article Al Rocca, editor of Social Science Review, provides a framework for doing so in the fifth grade based on D. W. Meinig's pioneering geographical history of America, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective of 500 Years of History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986).
USINGMAPS EV TEACHING CALIPORlMAHISTORY
There are a multitude of resources for integrating and teaching geography in our Stndards-based curriculum. Bill Warren, a retired engineer with a lifelong interest in maps and past president of the California Map Society, offers suggestions for using a wide variety of online maps. He provides several outstanding websites such as the American Memory with huge inventory of early American history maps and David Rumsey's digital collection of California history maps.
THECALIFORNIA HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE PROJECT
From the adoption of the California History-Social Science Framework it was recognized that many teachers would require upgrading of the subject matter content knowledge to implement its recommendations. The California History-Social Science Project was born out of that recognition. Ronald Mellor, Professor of History at UCLA and former co-director of the UCLA project site, discusses in his article one of the most beneficial but unexpected results of the project, the positive influence of K-12 teaching strategies on the transformation of university level history instruction in California.
TEACHINGTHEHOLOCAUSTIN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS
Not surprisingly in view of their politically charged nature, schools have often shied away from teaching topics such as the Holocaust. Both the Framework and the Content Standards forthrightly mandate that such topics belong in the state's curriculum. Donald Schwartz, Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach and co-ordinator of its social science teacher preparation program, reviews in his article California's uneven response to this mandate and suggests ways to help teachers meet it.
IMPERIAL SCHOLARS CHALLENGE THE STANDARDS
The Content Standards indicate the content to be covered in the History-Social Science curriculum, but they do not provide guidance as to how teachers are to deliver that content. Jan Coleman-Knight, an award winning teacher at Thornton junior High School in Fremont, California, describes in her article an inquiry based activity concerning the Chinese examination system that will help teachers bring to life for their students the Standards ' scant outline for the teaching of the history of Medieval China.
THE ORIGINS AND IMPACT OF CALIFORNIA STATE TESTING IN HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE
The development of content standards in History-Social Science was not intended to be an end in itself but part of a comprehensive process intended to increase student learning. Determining whether that improvement actually took place required not only the alignment of curriculum and standards but assessment of the result and the assessment instrument of choice became the standardized test. In his article John Burns, historysocial science consultant and coordinator of STAR test development for the California Department of Education, reviews the complex process that led to the development of the STAR tests and what has been learned during the brief history of their use.
HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS
Textbooks are the medium in which students finally encounter the content prescribed in the Content Standards. If textbooks do not effectively communicate that content, then all the work invested in developing standards will have been for naught. Tom Adams, Director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division of the State Department of Education, explains in his article what it means to say that the textbooks approved in the 2005 adoption cycle will be aligned with the Content Standards.
FROM THE COLLECTIONS TO THE CLASSROOM: THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY AND fflSTORYEDUCATION
Connected with the Standards Revolution has been increased interest at the national level in the teaching of American history. The Teaching American History grant program, the largest federal social studies initiative ever, has led to innovative partnerships between public schools, universities, and other educational and civic institutions. Susan K. Lafferty, Director of Education at the Huntington Library, illustrates in her article the contribution that the Huntington Library has made to the success of such partnerships in Southern California.
An Introduction to this Issue
Stanley Burstein was educated at UCLA, receiving his Ph.D. in 1972. he currently is Professor of Ancient History and chair of the History Department at California State University, Los Angeles, where he has taught since 1968. he was coordinator of the Social Science Teacher Preparation Program at CSULA from 1992 to 1996 and was a member of the CTC Social Science Subject Advisory Panel, and is a member STAR test Content Review Panel for History-Social Science. he is the author or co-author of numerous articles and books on various aspects of ancient history including Ancient African Civilizations: Kush andAxuw, and, most recently, A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture.…
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Publication information: Article title: History-Social Science in the Age of Standards. Contributors: Burstein, Stanley - Author. Magazine title: Social Studies Review. Volume: 43. Issue: 2 Publication date: Spring 2004. Page number: 5+. © California Council for the Social Studies Fall 2001. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.