Social Studies

Social Studies is the interdisciplinary study of citizenship and government, economics, geography, history, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities in which students develop the content, concepts, skills, and dispositions necessary to be informed and engaged citizens in the contemporary world.

Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements
Minnesota’s 2004 social studies standards, revised in 2011, were adopted into rule on May 6, 2013, with an effective date of May 13, 2013. View the social studies rulemaking page. The 2011 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies was to be implemented in all schools by the 2013-2014 school year.

The next review of the social studies standards will be during the 2020-2021 school year. In addition to the state social studies standards, there are standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies included in the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts.

There is no state test for social studies; school districts create their own assessments to measure student progress on the social studies standards. Graduation requirements for social studies state that all students are required to satisfactorily complete three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies, including U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies. Read more on the graduation requirements page.

Civics Test Requirement
The 89th Minnesota Legislature's H.F. No. 2749, Conference Committee Report, Article 5, Section 3, includes subdivision 3 titled: "Required knowledge and understanding of civics." This subdivision states, "Students enrolled in a public school must correctly answer at least 30 of the 50 civics test questions." (View the full bill here; see line 444.30.) The Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, in consultation with civics teachers, annually selects 50 of the 100 questions used by the United States citizenship and immigration services (USCIS Naturalization Test). The selected test questions are posted on Minnesota's Legacy website. This legislation is effective for students enrolling in grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year. Read the Civics Test Questions FAQ for more information.

The Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education
(CSSE) was established in 2009 as a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Historical Society and includes other statewide social studies organizations. The CSSE supports educators with standards implementation, classroom resources, and opportunities for professional development. Visit the CSSE website.

Doing Social Studies Video Series!
The Doing Social Studies video series supports implementation of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for Social Studies. The K-5 videos provide benchmark-by-benchmark explanations along with suggested instructional strategies for educators and activities for students. The 6-12 videos offer effective social studies instructional strategies. Use the guides as you view these videos: 
K-5 Video Guide   6-12 Video Guide 

K-5 Summary Overview
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3 - Part 1
Grade 3 - Part 2
Grade 4 - Part 1
Grade 4 - Part 2
Grade 5 - Part 1
Grade 5 - Part 2
6-12 Summary Overview
Concept-based Instruction
Inquiry-based Instruction
Inquiry Process for Grades 6-8

Social Studies Awards Programs
The Minnesota Scholars of Distinction program nurtures and recognizes distinguished achievement by highly motivated self-directed students. Scholars of Distinction awards may be earned in the following areas of social studies: Civics, Economics, Applied Geography, and Applied History. Learn more about this opportunity by visiting the Scholars of Distinction page.  The National History Teacher of the Year Award is an annual award that is made possible by generous support from the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Learn more about this award by visiting the National History Teacher website.

United States Senate Youth Program
The U.S. Senate Youth Program is a nationwide program that brings high school students to Washington, D.C., for an onsite introduction to the functions of the federal government, particularly the U.S. Senate. Students must be in 11th or 12th grade and hold an elected office (student government, civic, community, etc.) to be eligible to apply. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Senate. All expenses for U.S. Senate Youth students are paid by The Hearst Foundations. Visit the U.S. Senate Youth Program website.