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SD Department of Education Sept. 2015  

  How SD’s new social studies standards address early U.S. history

The South Dakota Board of Education has adopted new social studies content standards, and there has been some confusion about how the standards address early U.S. history (1776-1876), particularly at the high school level.

It is important to note that in both the previous standards and the new standards, early U.S. history is covered in 8th grade. The state’s previous standards did not include early U.S. history at the high school level at all.

During the final meetings of the workgroup who revised the state’s social studies standards, it became apparent that the group was divided about whether history standards at the high school level should be made comprehensive—covering all of U.S. history, or if they should continue to cover only modern U.S. history (1877-present), as occurred with the previous standards. Because the workgroup was nearly evenly divided on the issue, members surveyed South Dakota’s U.S history teachers. These teachers were nearly evenly divided on the matter as well. A survey of school district superintendents also found an almost even split of opinions.

Thus, a compromise was reached. The new standards were written to include optional standards at the high school level that address early U.S. history. This allows school districts to decide at the local level whether they will offer a comprehensive or modern U.S. history course. What this ultimately means is that the new standards contain more early U.S. history than did the previous set of standards.

Contact Sam Shaw, Department of Education, at (605) 773-5229 with questions.

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