CCSS Position Statements

CCSS supports the teachers, schools, and districts in providing quality of history-social science curriculum and instruction. To this end it has established positions on topics that influence educational policy related to the assessment, content, and focus of history-social science instruction. All position statements have been approved by the CCSS Board of Directors and are used to guide the organization's work with educational leaders, publishers, and legislators. 

A Position Paper of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007 
(Approved by CCSS Board of Directors January 6, 2007) 

 History-Social Science Education and Standards-based Instruction 

CCSS believes that standards for history-social science in California should: 

  • Be aligned with the California History Social-Science Framework, and be based on the goals of knowledge and cultural understanding, democratic understanding and civic values, skills attainment, social participation and on grade-level-specific topics and concepts. 
  • Highlight essential learnings rather than define the total curriculum. The careful identification of essentials is, indeed, the most powerful contribution which standards can make. 
  • Serve as essential learnings to which all K-12 students have equal access. 
  • Integrate history with geography and the social sciences, and draw appropriate resources from natural sciences and humanities as part of a strong academic program. 
  • Reflect global as well as western understandings and experience. 
  • Reflect the best of recent and relevant scholarship in the disciplines of history and the social sciences.

CCSS believes that the revision of California History-Social Science curriculum, Standards and Framework should be characterized by: 

  • Consultation with professionally recognized documents and scholarship in the field of history-social science education. 
  • The involvement of a significant cross-section of expert classroom practitioners and scholars in both revision and review stages. 
  • A timeline that allows for thoughtful and careful consideration by a large number of professionals. 
  • An avoidance of legislated curricular mandates 

CCSS as a professional statewide organization of history-social science K-12 educators needs to participate in: 

  • State level decision making about graduation requirements. 
  • The review and possible revision of the California History-Social Science Framework and Standards. 
  • Legislative and State Board of Education appointed committees that address history-social science issues. 

CCSS believes that academic standards meeting these criteria will make a meaningful contribution of the improvement of history-social science instruction in our state. 

Standards-based Instruction Position

History-Social Science and Professional Development 

In order to provide all students with highly effective history-social science instruction, CCSS believes that the state of California should provide and support pre-service, new, and experienced educators with ample professional development opportunities that address: 

  • improved content knowledge of educators 
  • effective use of standards-based instructional materials 
  • analysis of primary and secondary source material including maps, geographic data, statistical and economic information 
  • active project-based learning and simulations 
  • deliberative and respectful discussion of controversial issues 
  • issues of cultural diversity in school community settings 
  • strategies to provide equal access to all K-12 students
  • multiple perspectives from diverse viewpoints
  • the fostering of a spirit of inquiry, the development of skills related to acquiring, organizing, processing, and using information and making decisions related to both domestic and international matters
  • content literacy instruction through history-social science
  • effective use of technology to access, evaluate and present history-social science essential learnings 
  • opportunities to practice civic education to help students grapple with complex controversial issues; learn to make and support decisions on political issues; and develop skills to become committed, responsible citizens

History-Social Science and Professional Development Position 

of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007 
(Approved by CCSS Board of Directors January 6, 2007)

History-Social Science and Assessment 

CCSS believes that history-social science embraces essential components of the body of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students need for effective and committed participation in lifelong learning, citizenship, and employment. 

Rigorous academic history-social science standards lead students to become competent critical thinkers who can meaningfully select and interpret a wide scope of resources, analyze data, and understand and appreciate the complexities of multiple perspectives. 

As one of the four core areas in California schools approved by the California State Board of Education and identified in California Education Code, history-social science should be included in the statewide assessment system consistent with other core areas as follows: 

  • Assessment to be administered at each elementary grade level, grades 2-5. 
  • Assessment to be administered at each middle school grade level, grades 6-8 (not a cumulative exam). 
  • Assessment to be administered at each high school grade level span, grades 10 and 11.
  • California High School Exit Exam with a focus on citizenship and civic education knowledge, skills, and dispositions. 

Student competencies defined by the goals of the California History-Social Science Framework and History-Social Science Academic Content Standards should be systematically monitored through assessment measures that: 

  • Acknowledge the validity of a variety of assessment formats beyond multiple choice tests, e.g. student portfolios, writing samples, and other performance-based instruments. 
  • Emphasize student demonstration of analytical and critical thinking skills, civic understandings, multiple perspectives, decision-making, and the application of newly perceived insights. 
  • Significantly reflect items and strategies designed by teacher-practitioners who understand both the curriculum and the developmental abilities of students at each appropriate level. 

CCSS recognizes and supports the ongoing development of well-conceived assessment instruments as both a reasonable and fundamental part of a quality program of instruction. 

History-Social Science and Assessment

of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007 
(Approved by CCSS Board of Directors January 6, 2007) 


History-Social Science and Citizenship Education


The purpose of public education in the United States is the development of effective citizens who are knowledgeable, committed, and responsible members of our democratic society. CCSS recognizes that the instruction of the California History-Social Science Framework and Standards is the primary means to achieve this goal in our state. 

Any democratic society characterized by pluralism and diversity must ultimately rely upon a pervasive and continuous sense of common basic knowledge, skills, and dispositions which informs and empowers its constituents to live and act together harmoniously. With low levels of youth civic participation as well as large numbers of immigrants to California, it is essential to provide citizenship education that informs, acculturates, and empowers all young people to become informed, committed and responsible citizens. 

History-social science education provides students with the opportunity to gain knowledge about history, law and government; discuss controversial issues; and participate in simulations, democratic processes, and service-learning activities that address real world problems, improve academic achievement, and build civic skills and dispositions. It brings parents, community members and organizations into schools and classrooms as resources for civic learning and a spirit of responsible participation. 

History-social science education is essential for preparing young people in their development of personal strategies to access and evaluate information to make informed and reasoned decisions within their community in an increasingly interdependent world. 

History-Social Science and Citizenship Education

of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007
(Approved by CCSS Board of Directors January 6, 2007) 


History-Social Science and the Workforce 


The purpose of public education in the United States is the development of effective citizens who are knowledgeable, committed, and responsible members of our democratic society. One aspect of a broad understanding of citizenship is the body of skills, understandings and attitudes that enable a citizen to be self-directed, responsible, and economically productive. A successful workforce of the future needs lifelong learners who are adaptable, flexible, curious, cooperative, creative, and resilient in quickly changing markets. History-social science education adds much to the development of a workforce that understands the value of what it does in a highly technical, competitive, interdependent, and changing world. Some of those contributions are as follows: 

  • By examining many societies and institutions – past and present – history-social science helps students find and understand their place in larger economic systems as well as the small systems of an organization or workplace. 
  • By requiring students – individually and in groups – to face and solve a variety of problems, history-social science teaches students to analyze and resolve a wide range of on-the-job problems.
  • By teaching students to develop perspectives that encompass diverse points of view and develop consensus-building skills, history-social science empowers members of a workforce to resolve differences constructively and come to decisions that respect different points of view. 
  • By analyzing and weighing values in countless social situations – historical, contemporary, and real-life – history-social science guides students toward an understanding of the dimension of ethics and social responsibility in the workplace.

Further, history-social science education has much to offer in the learning of individual life skills, the development of a competent and skilled work force, and the passing down of cultural heritage. Such studies are rooted in our shared knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes, which come from what we know about the past, the peoples of the world and how they interact, how governments operate, the ways people govern themselves, and how goods and services are provided and exchanged. Students who have had a variety of experiences with the content and application of history-social science are better prepared to function productively in their family, school, workplace, community, and global economy and are more likely to be encouraged to become lifelong learners and self-reliant citizens. 

History-Social Science and the Workforce

of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007


History-Social Science and “No Child Left Behind"

 If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, 

it expects what never was and never will be. - Thomas Jefferson 

 Democratic values taught in History-Social Science K-12 classrooms represent the bedrock of education in the United States of America. Public schools were created in America to prepare the young to be educated, responsible, participating citizens. When students do not receive History-Social Science education, their ability to navigate their world successfully as effective citizens is at risk and the future of our democracy is in peril.

No Child Left Behind in its current form has excluded History-Social Science and citizen preparation in American schools

Most educators across the nation applaud the intended goals of the No Child Left Behind Act. It is time to recognize certain unintended effects related to the narrowing of the curriculum. These work to destroy rather than strengthen students’ opportunity to a world-class education. In our effort to win the war on illiteracy, our young people are being denied access to subject matter and learning experiences that breathe life into their minds and hearts and prepares them to become informed, responsible citizens in an ever-changing world. 

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence that points to the fact that too many students, particularly students who are immigrants, who are poor, who are failing school are not receiving the balanced curriculum they deserve. Most of their school day is spent in reading and math intervention programs designed to improve their ability to read, write, and compute. Reading and mathematical thinking present the gateway to lifelong learning but they do not and should not be taught to the exclusivity of other subject matter knowledge and critical thinking needed to solve the problems of the world today.

The Civic Mission of Schools Report states that in the nineteenth century and into the 20th century, high levels of civic participation were demonstrated by American youth. In the last 30-40 years, civic engagement has decreased dramatically. Understanding and interest in public affairs has fallen. The age group with the lowest voter turnout is 18-25. 

We are the most diverse nation in the world. New arrivals often come from societies with weak democratic institutions and they have little or no experience with self-government. While all our citizens need to understand our government and the role of citizen, these new arrivals are at a tragic disadvantage. They are often fearful of the representatives of government and do not seek their help when it is needed. Their children often become their only source of information about our institutions. As a result, education about our government is vital both for these families to the well being of our democracy. 

We join our national affiliate, the National Council for the Social Studies, in support of the Joint Statement on NCLB that calls upon Congress to reverse the marginalization of the Social Studiesundefinedand narrow the “civic achievement gap”undefinedby including provisions for standards, assessment, and professional development in the reauthorization of NCLB. 

Specifically, our combined membership recommends: 

  1.  Subpart I - Basic Program Requirements, sec.1111. State Plans, (b)(1)(C) Add "the core social studies disciplines - civics/government, economics, geography, and history" to this academic standards provision. 
  2. Subpart 1 - Basic Program Requirements, sec.1111. Academic Assessments (b)(3)(A) Add "the core social studies disciplines - civics/government, economics, geography, and history" to the requirement for assessments and accountability. 
  3.  Title II Professional Development Fund requirements include alignment with state standards and assessments. Add "the core social studies disiciplines - civics/government, economics, geography, and history." [This would allow equity of funding for these content areas.] 

        The future of America and our democratic institutions depend on effective teachers who provide each new generation with knowledge of our history and government, skills needed to make informed decisions about complex public issues, attitudes that support democratic practices, and commitment to engage in civic life. 

        History-Social Science and “No Child Left Behind” 

        Letter to Congressman George Miller on NCLB

of the California Council for the Social Studies, 2007

History-Social Science and Literacy

The hallmark of any democratic society is its ability to engage the participation of a thoughtful electorate, able to effectively listen, speak, read, write, and analyze relevant information. In the United States, the development of such basic literacy skills has traditionally been the responsibility of our K-12 educational institutions. A quality education includes the content of history and the social sciences and is critical to building a literate citizenry. History-social science education has routinely stressed these literacy skills by: 

Analyzing a wide variety of materials from multiple perspectives. 

Building background knowledge of students about their world as an essential element of reading comprehension. 

  • Creating a context for understanding information through the development of chronological and spatial thinking, and cultural knowledge. 
  • Improving communication skills through presentations, debate, role-play, and by creating and defending hypotheses orally and in writing. 
  • Enhancing listening skills through the give and take required for the discussion of ideas and engaging in dialogue involving conflicting points of view. 
  • Honing reading and writing skills through research projects, written reports of information, and persuasive essays.

Currently, however, we have come to a more comprehensive understanding of literacy. In history-social science, historical, ethical, cultural, geographic, economic and sociopolitical literacies are critical elements and as such are described and emphasized in the California History-Social Science Framework/Standards. Excellent history-social science educators and programs know that a truly literate citizenry must be able to move beyond words to the comprehension of ideas through a foundation in historical, political, economic, and social understanding. 

To these ends, history-social science education engages students in:

  • Accessing and comprehending the academic language and text structures for various types of history-social science sources. 
  • Reading and interpreting a wide variety of text including significant literary works, visuals, maps, artifacts, speeches, art and music associated with a period. 
  • Writing arguments using evidence and analysis. 
  • Placing literature and non-fiction writing of and about a time period in the appropriate historical, social, and cultural context for the purpose of making a connection with and enhancing understanding of events, places, and ideas.  
  • Evaluating and interpreting written and oral sources by applying concepts derived from history and the social sciences. 
  • Making decisions about policies, courses of action, and citizen participation based on written historical, economic, cultural and geographic information. 
  • Analyzing and evaluating written sources for the use of rhetoric and argumentation techniques to persuade readers to a particular point of view for political, or social purposes. 

History Social Science has increasingly incorporated these comprehensive literacy skills in order to cultivate critical thinkers and decision makers as well as proficient readers able to take full advantage of their individual rights and meet their civic responsibilities. 

History-Social Science and Literacy

California Council for the Social Studies
Serving K-16 Educators Statewide
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