The Social Studies Dilemma

I passed this chart out to our department heads, and it seemed helpful.  And you know I am all about visuals…

Standards

“Ohio’s New Learning Standards: K-12 (Subject)”

Assessments

English Common Core (National) 2014-2015:  End of Course (EOC) Exams created by PARCC (National)
Mathematics Common Core (National) 2014-2015:  EOC Exams created by PARCC (National)
Social Studies Ohio Revised Standards (Ohio ONLY)*Conversations about a common core, but unlikely 2013-2014:  Our self-created EOC Assessment in U.S. History and Government2014-2015:  State created EOC in U.S. History and Government
Science Current:  Ohio Revised Standards (Ohio ONLY)Winter, 2013: Next Generation Science Standards (National) 2014-2015:  State created EOC in Biology and Physical Science 
Fine Arts, Career-Tech, Physical Education, World Languages All have Ohio Revised Standards as of 2012

My struggle this week has been with high school history courses and meeting the requirements of SB 165.

Let’s review some of the legislation before I get into the scenario.

  • Currently, students are required to have a minimum of 1/2 credit American History and 1/2 credit government.  This requirement did not change as a result of SB165.  Many districts have American history in the 9th or 10th (traditionally, World History in 9th, American in 10th or vice versa) and government/civics in 12th grade.  I remember taking government in 12th grade because it was when we all registered to vote (well, everyone except myself and the few other 16-17 year old seniors).
  • American History (AH) and Government (G) are required to read specific primary documents, which are now included in the revised course syllabi.  Here’s the legislation:

(M) It is important that high school students learn and understand United States history and the governments of both the United States and the state of Ohio. Therefore, beginning with students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2012, the study of American history and American government required by divisions (B)(6) and (C)(6) of this section shall include the study of all of the following documents:

(1) The Declaration of Independence;

(2) The Northwest Ordinance;

(3) The Constitution of the United States with emphasis on the Bill of Rights;

(4) The Ohio Constitution.

The study of each of the documents prescribed in divisions (M)(1) to (4) of this section shall include study of that document in its original context.

The study of American history and government required by divisions (B)(6) and (C)(6) of this section shall include the historical evidence of the role of documents such as the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers to firmly establish the historical background leading to the establishment of the provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  • Districts are to be creating/purchasing end of course exams for AH and G.  (ODE just released this not-incredibly-helpful tutorial about the EOC exams this past week.)  These exams must be approved by local board before July 1, 2013, which means they need to be finalized by around April.
  • These locally-created EOC exams will be in place for any student regardless of grade taking AH or G in 2013-2014.  This means, if you offer either course as a semester class only, students enrolled in that class in the fall with take EOC exams at the end of fall semester.  They will continue to be used until the state chooses a statewide exam (choice to be made by July, 2014) and that exam is in place (no date).
  • The EOC in Gov must have 20% of its questions based on the primary docs that are spread over two courses.  Here’s that legislation:

(3)(a) Not later than July 1, 2013, each school district board of education shall adopt interim end-of-course examinations that comply with the requirements of divisions (B)(3)(b)(i) and (ii) of this section to assess mastery of American history and American government standards adopted under division (A)(1)(b) of section 3301.079 of the Revised Code and the topics required under division (M) of section 3313.603 of the Revised Code. Each high school of the district shall use the interim examinations until the state superintendent and chancellor select end-of-course examinations in American history and American government under division (B)(2) of this section.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2014, the state superintendent and the chancellor shall select the end-of-course examinations in American history and American government.

(i) The end-of-course examinations in American history and American government shall require demonstration of mastery of the American history and American government content for social studies standards adopted under division (A)(1)(b) of section 3301.079 of the Revised Code and the topics required under division (M) of section 3313.603 of the Revised Code.

(ii) At least twenty per cent of the end-of-course examination in American government shall address the topics on American history and American government described in division (M) of section 3313.603 of the Revised Code.
  • Notice a couple of things in the legislation:  1) The EOC must meet mastery of the standards, and remember that mastery in the new SS standards means combining the content statement with the content elaboration and expectation for learning.  (and I thought the ELA standard statements were convoluted!).  2)  The G EOC spans the content of both AH and G.

Despite all my research, I still do not know what the impact of failing an EOC is.  Nor do I know if the EOC completely replaces the OGT in SS 2013-2014.  Currently, if a student fails the OGT, s/he can continue with the next course and will retake the OGT in summer (fall, the next summer, fall…etc.).  But what happens if a student fails the EOC?  Does s/he repeat the course?  Simply retake the test (like the OGT)?  Continue on with the next course in the SS sequence?  The legislation is vague:

(D) Upon completion of the development of the assessment system, the state board shall adopt rules prescribing all of the following:

(1) A timeline and plan for implementation of the assessment system, including a phased implementation if the state board determines such a phase-in is warranted;

(2) The date after which a person entering ninth grade shall meet the requirements of the entire assessment system as a prerequisite for a high school diploma under section 3313.61, 3313.612, or 3325.08 of the Revised Code;

(3) The date after which a person shall meet the requirements of the entire assessment system as a prerequisite for a diploma of adult education under section 3313.611 of the Revised Code;

(4) Whether and the extent to which a person may be excused from a social studies an American history end-of-course examination and an American government end-of-course examination under division (H) of section 3313.61 and division (B)(2) of section 3313.612 of the Revised Code;

(5) The date after which a person who has fulfilled the curriculum requirement for a diploma but has not passed one or more of the required assessments at the time the person fulfilled the curriculum requirement shall meet the requirements of the entire assessment system as a prerequisite for a high school diploma under division (B) of section 3313.614 of the Revised Code;

(6) The extent to which the assessment system applies to students enrolled in a dropout recovery and prevention program for purposes of division (F) of section 3313.603 and section 3314.36 of the Revised Code.

No real answer there….So I tried the Legislative Services Fiscal Analysis: 

State assessments
Current law requires the State Board of Education to develop a system of college and work ready assessments to replace the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) as a requirement for high school graduation. Under current law, the system of assessments must include a series of end-of-course examinations in the areas of science, mathematics, English language arts, and social studies. The bill replaces social studies with American history and American government as distinct areas for which end-of-course examinations must be selected. Furthermore, the bill requires that at least 20% of the end-of-course examination in American government cover the historical documents mentioned above. According to ODE, they have already planned for American history and American government under the current social studies end-of-course examination requirement…
 
The bill also requires the State Board to revise the fifth and eighth grade social studies achievement assessments and the social studies portion of the OGT. ODE is already planning to revise the social studies assessments as part of a new assessment system aligned with the new standards adopted in 2010. 
Again, no real answer.  I cannot figure out 1) the impact of the EOC on students, and 2) when/where the OGT in SS is done.  Obviously, these are pretty important questions to have answered before making significant decisions about HS curricula.

In terms of my new responsibilities, I’m thinking about the following issues….

  1. Should we move government from 12th grade to 11th or 10th?  The problem is it can’t be moved straight from 12th (in 2012-2013) to 10th (in 2013-2014) because current juniors and sophomores will still have to take the course to meet graduation requirements.  It could be transitioned back, but next year we will have a lot of seniors and juniors enrolled in the course at once.
  2. Why should we move government?  My argument is that if a senior is taking government in the second semester of senior year and s/he fails the EOC and ODE determines that failing the EOC means failing the course, that senior is pretty out of luck!  In addition to providing students with extra opportunities to pass the test, though, because the government syllabus/requirements/content statements build on the AH syllabus/requirements/content statements, AND because the government test contains 20% question based on content covered in both areas, government and AH should be offered as close together as possible to ensure a continuum of learning.  (Not to mention a continuum of progression toward the test)
  3. What the legislation says about moving the courses:  The legislation talks about “demonstrated mastery” in AH and government before taking courses with world issues, which to me says AH and G should be first in the HS course series.

I think moving the government course out of 12th grade is the only way to meet the needs and requirements of the mandate.  Would love to hear what your districts are doing.

Update 9/18–After our meeting, the team decided to leave world history in 9th grade (preserving a place for that course in the sequence and curriculum by using world study to set up context for American history), move U.S. History to 10th grade, move Government to 11th grade (and rename it “government” instead of “civics”), and keep senior year as the elective history year.  We’ll be transitioning next year with several government classes while we get our 11th and 12th graders (of 2013-2014 school year) through the government requirement.

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2 thoughts on “The Social Studies Dilemma

  1. Since I’m not from Ohio, I won’t comment on the convultedness of legislative diction except to say it is what it is. However, the instruction of SS is so important and the growing complexity of meeting standards, both at state and national levels seems to overshadow the actual work of teaching and learning. Stanford University has a great website for middle and high school SS teacher: Reading Like a Historian (http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45). The website offers 75 lessons complete with PP. The lessons draw on the textbook and primary sources. Furthermore, the lessons provide guides for thinking aloud to model the important reading practices of a historian: sourcing, contextualization, and corroboration. Although they are “said” to follow the CCSS for literacy and I think they do, I didn’t see the standards are not explicitly delineated in the lesson plans.

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