New social studies standards that were developed and unanimously approved by a committee of educators, parents, business and government representatives have been adopted by the state of Minnesota. Governor Mark Dayton signed the standards this week, providing Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) with the ability to move forward with implementation.
According to state law, academic standards are periodically reviewed and revised to ensure they are current and reflect new knowledge in the subject and new understandings about how students learn.
The revised standards are the result of an intensive process, begun under former Commissioner Alice Seagren in 2010. A committee of 46 K-12 and postsecondary educators, business and government representatives, parents and other members of the public was convened to develop the standards. Each committee member had a background in social studies, and all regions of the state were represented.
In developing the standards, the committee studied national documents and reports on social studies education, examined exemplary standards from other states, analyzed more than 1,100 public comments submitted online and at town hall meetings, and relied on an unprecedented number of expert reviews. The standards were revised to include:
•Grade-specific benchmarks for grades K-8
•Technology and information literacy
•Financial literacy (personal finance)
•Geographic information systems skills
All 46 members of the social studies standards committee voted unanimously to adopt the new standards.
The new standards give districts greater flexibility in choosing and developing curriculum by focusing more on the critical skills and understanding that students will need to master in order to be prepared for postsecondary education and advanced work.
An administrative hearing allowing for public comment was held on the standards in December of 2012. In late March, Judge Barbara Neilson issued a decision stating that the new standards were “needed and reasonable.” She recommended MDE move forward with adoption and implementation for the 2013-2014 school year.