Social Studies is the interdisciplinary study of citizenship and government, economics, geography, history, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities in which students develop the content knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to be informed and engaged citizens in the contemporary world.
According to the National Council for the Social Studies, the purpose of social studies is to develop civic competence and “help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires that citizens have the ability to use their knowledge about their community, nation, and world; to apply inquiry processes; and to employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.”
The Minnesota Department of Education supports social studies achievement for all learners by providing guidance and technical assistance on implementation of academic standards, current literacy best practices, multi-tiered systems of intervention, and policy administration.
Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements
The proposed Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies were revised in 2011. The proposed standards were posted on the MDE website in February 2012, and the standards are now proceeding through the state’s formal rulemaking process. View the social studies rulemaking page.
If adopted into rule, the standards must be implemented by the 2013-14 school year. The next revision of the social studies standards will be during the 2019-20 school year. In addition to the state social studies standards, there are standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies included in the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010).
There is no state test for social studies; school districts create their own assessments to measure student progress on the social studies standards. Graduation requirements for social studies states that all students are required to satisfactorily complete three-and-a-half credits of social studies, including U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history and economics. Read more on the graduation requirements page.
The Center for Social Studies Education (CSSE) was established in 2009 as a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Historical Society. The CSSE maintains a website that has many resources for social studies educators at all grade levels. The CSSE also coordinates professional development with seven statewide social studies-related professional organizations. Visit the CSSE website to join the network, or explore resources for each of the social studies disciplines.
Recognition and Awards Programs
The CSSE coordinates two recognition and award programs in social studies. The History Teacher of the Year Award is an annual award that is made possible by the generous support from the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Recipients receive a cash award. The annual Scholars of Distinction program recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding ability in geography and history. Learn more about these exciting programs or nominate a teacher for History Teacher of the Year by contacting CSSE.
Resources for Professional Development and Technical Assistance