Okay. Chicken out may a bit harsh. But it’s a bit unsettling when the most well known organization drops out of the national social studies standards creation gig.
Three and a half years ago, I wrote a short piece concerning the difficulties involved with the creation of a national set of social studies standards. At the time, I was convinced that it would be difficult to create such a document. There would be just too many problems to overcome – the two biggest being that there would likely be a focus on easily measured specific content and no way for 50 different states to agree on what that content would be.
I was hoping for a focus instead on process and thinking skills rather than
just a very long laundry list of specifics without any concern for thinking skills. So maybe . . . if the focus is on using information rather than on just a long list of dead guys without context.
What happened, of course, is that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) folks finished off the ELA and math documents, leaving the social studies work to continue in a sort of double-secret probation mode. Eventually much of the that secret work was finished and we were given a preview of the final social studies document last November.
It was just a teaser but it was enough to let us know that the final document would not include any real content but would instead focus on process and thinking skills. And it supported the work we had been doing in Kansas to re-write our state standards. So . . . cool.
The rough draft (also found here) of the final national document, the Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards, came out earlier this spring. Some will be disappointed in the lack of specific content indicators but I like the direction the document is leading the discipline. Encourage high levels of doing and thinking while allowing local states and districts to create their own set of actual content.
So I’m not sure what it means that just recently the CCSSO announced that they were bowing “out of its role as the convenor of a group of states and organizations writing a shared social studies framework.”
The National Council for the Social Studies had been leading the conversation and will now finish the task of publishing the official and final national document. But without the CCSSO name attached, will the document get the same buzz as its more well known ELA and math siblings? Will states and districts still see the document for what it is – a game changer in how we should be doing our job?