Social Studies is the interdisciplinary study of citizenship and government, economics, geography, history, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Social Studies empowers learners to become inquisitive, informed, and engaged members of society who use critical thinking, inquiry, and literacy to prepare for college, careers, and civic life.
Social Studies Standards are Currently Being Reviewed and Revised
In accordance with Minnesota Statutes, Minnesota’s academic standards are reviewed and revised on a 10-year cycle. During 2020-21, the department is in the process of facilitating a review of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies.
Minnesotans from Varying Perspectives and Backgrounds Draft Standards
It is important to know that the standards are drafted for Minnesota public schools, by Minnesotans. The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for Social Studies review and revision is being conducted by a committee that includes 38 members from across Minnesota. Minnesota Statutes outline who must be represented on the committee, including parents, currently licensed and in the classroom teachers, licensed school administrators, school board members, postsecondary institution faculty teaching core subjects, and business community members. From March 2 to June 30, 2020, an application period was open for Minnesotans to apply to be on the standards committee. In July 2020, Minnesotans with varying perspectives and backgrounds were selected for the committee. The committee began meeting in September.
Initial Early Draft of Standards Released on December 1
The committee released its initial early draft of the social studies standards on December 1, 2020. This draft provided a revision of the standards, not the benchmarks, and did not provide a comprehensive view of the final product. The draft was a reflection of where the committee was at in the review and revision process as of December 1, 2020. A public comment period on the draft was open from December 1, 2020, to January 4, 2021. Public comment received informs the development of the next draft.
Early Draft Focuses on Standards
As noted in the introduction of the draft standards document, the committee focused first on the social studies standards themselves, and had not yet dug in to the benchmarks underneath each standard. There may be confusion among some people around the difference between a standard and a benchmark. An academic standard is a summary description of student learning in a content area. Academic standards are comprised of one or more benchmarks. A benchmark supplements the standard and is the specific knowledge or skill that a student must master to complete part of an academic standard by the end of a grade level or grade band. The benchmarks listed in this first draft are simply examples of what could be included under each standard. Historical U.S. and world events like WWII and the Holocaust are being taught in Minnesota schools and will continue to be taught. During the standards review process, benchmarks are fully reviewed and revised after the standards have received feedback from the public in the first draft.
Next Committee Meeting is Thursday, May 6We know that our students’ education is at its strongest when Minnesotans are engaged in the planning process. During the standards review process, all committee meetings are open for the public to observe. Here is the May 6, 2021 meeting agenda. The meeting is on Thursday, May 6, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Watch the May 6 meeting. The link to the meeting will not go live until the scheduled time. Since releasing the first draft of the social studies standards in December, the department has received significant feedback from throughout Minnesota. To provide time to review all of the public comments, the department is building more time into the process of revising the standards. The second draft of social studies standards will be published later this spring.
Past 2020-21 Meetings
- Meeting Agenda - September 16, 2020
- Meeting Agenda - October 22, 2020
- Meeting Agenda - November 16, 2020
- Meeting Agenda - January 11, 2021
- Meeting Agenda - March 25, 2021
- Meeting Agenda - April 8, 2021
Social Studies Standards Committee Meeting Questions and Answers 3-25-21
Watch this Page for Updates on the Revision Process
Watch this page for information and updates on the revision process, future public comment periods and meetings. With the extended time period to provide time for feedback, review, and revision, the final draft of the standards will not be completed until fall of 2021. The full standards review process is extensive and standards will not be implemented until 2025, at the earliest.
More Information on Social Studies Standards Review Process
- Minnesota K-12 Social Studies Standards Review Process Timeline
- 2020-21 Minnesota Social Studies Standards Committee
- Social Studies Town Hall Meetings
- First Draft of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies
- Academic Standards: Social Studies K-12 (2011) - Spreadsheet
- 2020-21 Social Studies Standards Committee’s Guiding Assumptions
Current Social Studies Standards, Assessments, and Graduation Requirements
- Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies 2011
- Social studies students in grades 6-12 must also complete the Literacy in History/Social Studies Standards included in the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010) (pages 80-90).
- Frequently Asked Questions: 2011 Social Studies Standards
- Academic Standards: Social Studies K-12 (2011) - Spreadsheet
Students are also required to satisfactorily complete three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies, encompassing at least U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies.
- A one-half credit of economics taught in a school’s agriculture education or business department may fulfill a one-half credit in social studies if the credit is sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in economics (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, Subd. 2(a)).
The high school social studies standards are banded and must be taught within the grade span of 9-12.
At any grade level, the benchmarks from multiple disciplines can be combined to facilitate integrated, or interdisciplinary, learning experiences.
The standards represent the minimum requirements; schools may offer courses in additional disciplines including psychology, sociology, archaeology, and anthropology.
Resources for Instruction and Learning
- Learning Law and Democracy Foundation (LLAD)
- Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education (MAGE)
- Minnesota Council for History Education (MNCHE)
- Minnesota Council for the Social Studies (MCSS)
- Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE)
- Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS)
- Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC)
Standards and Related Information
Social Studies Standards Committee Meeting Questions and Answers 3-25-21 - 4/7/21
Frequently Asked Questions: 2011 Social Studies Standards - 3/30/21
Academic Standards: Social Studies K-12 (2011) - Spreadsheet - 3/23/21
This spreadsheet allows for sorting of the standards and for adding columns for instructional resources and assessments.
2020-21 Minnesota Social Studies Standards Committee - 1/22/21
First Draft of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies - 11/30/20
2020-21 Social Studies Standards Committee’s Guiding Assumptions - 3/2/20
Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies 2011 - 12/24/14
Adopted May 6, 2013. These standards were to be implemented by schools by the 2013-14 school year.