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.

For more information about Social Studies, contact Filiz Yargici.

Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements
The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies, revised in 2011 (see below), sets the minimum statewide requirements for K-12 student achievement in the disciplines of citizenship and government, economics, geography, and history.

Minnesota State Statute requires all students to satisfactorily complete all social studies standards and their corresponding benchmarks in order to graduate (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, subd. 1(5)). For grades K-8, there are grade-specific standards for each of the four main disciplines. For grades 4-8, there is one lead discipline for each grade level. The high school social studies standards are banded and must be taught within the grade span of 9-12. Schools may offer courses in additional disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and sociology. The 2011 Social Studies Standards will be reviewed in 2020-21 and every ten years thereafter (Minn Stat. § 120B.021, subd 4(f)). Additionally, social studies students in grades 6-12 must complete the Literacy in History/Social Studies standards included in the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (pages 80-90, see below).

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
In 2016, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring Minnesota students in public schools to pass a civics test. Passing this test is not required for graduation. The test consists of 50 out of the 100 questions in the INS Naturalization Test. The 50 questions are selected by Learning Law and Democracy Foundation in consultation with civics teachers. 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. Students must pass 30 of the 50 questions. How the test is given is up to local school districts and instructors. The law 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.