MREA met with the Minnesota Department of Education on behalf of Greater Minnesota schools to review the process for adopting the latest version of Social Studies standards. Below are highlights of the conversation.
Standards are a summary of student learning in a content area, while benchmarks are specific knowledge or skills a student must master to complete part of an academic standard.
The final version of the Social Studies Standards will be presented to Commissioner Mueller by September 28, 2021. The Standards will go through a rulemaking process that can take 12-18 months to finalize. The implementation date is not set but is expected to be the 2026-27 school year.
There is an additional strand called Ethnic Studies, which was not part of the 2011 Standards. Some of the Standards in this strand came from other strands in 2011, but many are enhanced. Some states are having a separate Ethnic Studies strand, while others are banning the Ethnic Studies strand altogether.
The new standards shift to less standards in Social Studies (from 57 to 24) but more benchmarks (from 443 to 485). There are more benchmarks in Kindergarten because in 2011 not all schools were doing full-day Kindergarten.
There is a shift from exact dates in history to eras.
There is a focus on critical thinking for each standard.
The current version does not have examples for each benchmark but they will be included in the next version.
The standards stop at 9th grade. The standards listed for 9th grade can be completed any time during High School (9th-12th grade). The standards are not specified by year in High School.
MREA emphasized there needs to be a communication plan for the successful implementation of these standards. Many terms such as “Equity” and “Culturally Responsive/Affirming Curriculum” may be trigger points, and there needs to be public education on definition for these terms. MREA also requested talking points from MDE for educators to adequately address the standards. MREA will continue to advocate for districts to make this transition as seamless as possible for Greater Minnesota schools.