The Iowa Department of Education has released the draft of the revised standards for teaching social studies to kids across state. The Department’s Stefanie Wager says a state writing team put together the new standards after several months of study.
Wager says they looked at what other states are doing, looked at national standards, reviewed the old standards and then wrote up the new proposed standards. Wager says the move to update the standards was driven by a couple of things.
“A lot of general complaints over the years about our standards not being rigorous, not being specific enough, that kind of thing,” Wager says. She says the governor’s executive order requiring education standards be reviewed also was part of it as the social studies standards have been in place since 2008. The writing team now hands off its proposal to a review team which will make any final modifications after getting input from Iowans.
“We do a public survey, we will do public forums, we will do focus groups, those kinds of things,” Wager says. “And their job is to look at all of that data and feedback collectively and say ‘the writing team had a misstep here and we need to fix this portion of the standards,’ and that kind of thing.” She says it will be kind of a final polish on the plan.
“Their job isn’t to make sweeping changes unless there is strong evidence from the data and from the feedback that supports those changes,” according to Wager. This is a continuation of the process that has already seen the state’s standards for teaching math and science to K-through-12th graders get an upgrade. Wager says some states get very specific about which historical events should be included in social studies curriculum and that causes the review to get controversial. She doesn’t expect that here.
“These standards are nearly that specific — and so I doubt that you would see nearly as much controversy as you might see in other states where they are really specifically defining that you have to cover this person and this battle and that sort of thing. But certainly it’s much less black and white than perhaps math or science,” Wager says.
The Social Studies Standards Review Team will meet for the first time November 8th to being the public review of the draft social studies standards. The team’s first meeting will be held from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. in Room B100 of the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines. The meeting is open to the public.