Social Studies

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
Minnesota’s 2004 social studies standards were reviewed and revised in 2011. The new standards proceeded through the state’s administrative rulemaking process, were adopted into rule on May 6, 2013, and became effective May 13, 2013. View the social studies rulemaking page . All schools must implement the 2011 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies by the 2013-2014 school year.

The next review of the social studies standards will be during the 2019-2020 school year. In addition to the state social studies standards, there are standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies included in the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts.

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 state that all students are required to satisfactorily complete three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies, including U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies. Read more on the graduation requirements page.

Resources for Professional Development and Technical Assistance
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 regularly updated calendar of events related to social studies, as well as lesson plans and other resources for social studies instruction, curriculum, and assessment 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.

Social Studies Awards Programs
The Minnesota Scholars of Distinction program nurtures and recognizes distinguished achievement by highly motivated self-directed students. Scholars of Distinction awards may be earned in the following areas of social studies: Civics, Economics, Applied Geography, and Applied History. Learn more about this opportunity by visiting the Scholars of Distinction page.  The National History Teacher of the Year Award is an annual award that is made possible by generous support from the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Learn more about this award by visiting the National History Teacher website.