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National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment


National Council for the Social Studies first published national curriculum standards in 1994. Since then, the social studies standards have been widely and successfully used as a framework for teachers, schools, districts, states, and other nations as a tool for curriculum alignment and development. However, much has changed in the world and in education since these curriculum standards were published. This 2010 revision aims to provide a framework for teaching, learning, and assessment in social studies that includes a sharper articulation of curriculum objectives, and reflects greater consistency across the different sections of the document. It incorporates current research and suggestions for improvement from many experienced practitioners. These revised standards reflect a desire to continue and build upon the expectations established in the original standards for effective social studies in the grades from pre-K through 12.

This edition, like the 1994 social studies standards, continue to be stuctured around the ten themes of social studies. However, the revised standards offer a sharper focus on:

  • Purposes
  • Questions for Exploration
  • Knowledge: what learners need to understand
  • Processes: what learners will be capable of doing
  • Products: how learners demonstrate understanding

The revised standards also include:

  • Enhancements in the descriptions of the ten themes and the associated learning expectations
  • The addition of new descriptions of standards-based class practices to time-tested descriptions that were included in the original edition of the standards
  • A stronger focus on student products and their assessment
  • An updated list of essential social studies skills and strategies, including literacy strategies

The Revised National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

The revised standards, National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, were developed by a Task Force of the National Council for the Social Studies, and approved by the NCSS Board of Directors in March 2010.

Task Force

Susan A. Adler, Chair
Peggy Altoff
Anand R. Marri
Mary A. McFarland
Chris McGrew

Mary Ellen Sorensen
Stephen J. Thornton
Cynthia A. Tyson
Zora Warren
Bruce Wendt


Table of Contents

 Executive Summary

Preface: Steven A. Goldberg

1. Introduction

2. The Ten Themes of Social Studies

The remainder of this publication is not available online. See the sidebar at the right of this page for information on how to order the standards.

3. Purposes, Questions for Exploration, Knowledge, Process, and Products.
4. Learning Expectations: Early Grades
5. Learning Expectations: Middle Grades
6. Learning Expectations: High School

Appendix 1: Essential Social Studies Skills and Strategies
Appendix 2: Democratic Beliefs and Values


ISBN 978-0-87986-105-6
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2010934360
Copyright © 2010 National Council for the Social Studies
8555 Sixteenth Street
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
All rights reserved.

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