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Introduction to the Colorado Social Studies Standards

“Teaching social studies powerfully and authentically begins with a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject and its unique goals. Social studies programs prepare students to identify, understand, and work to solve the challenges facing our diverse nation in an increasingly interdependent world. Education for citizenship should help students acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives. Competent and responsible citizens are informed and thoughtful, participate in their communities, are involved politically, and exhibit moral and civic virtues.”
A Vision of Powerful Teaching and Learning in the Social Studies:
Building Social Understanding and Civic Efficacy (NCSS, 2008)


Preparing students for the 21st century cannot be accomplished without a strong and sustaining emphasis on the social studies. The social studies provide cornerstone skills that are the key to opening doors for a more diverse, competitive workforce and responsible citizenry. Students use critical thinking, self-assessment, reasoning, problem-solving, collaboration, research, and investigation to make connections in new and innovative ways as they progress through social studies education. These standards outline the knowledge and skills needed to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

Social studies is essential to understanding the complexity of the world. It provides the context and understanding of how humans interact with each other and with the environment over time. It offers the crucial knowledge needed to create a framework for understanding the systems of society.

Colorado's social studies standards lay out a vision of these vitally important disciplines and describe what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level through eighth grade, and through high school. The authors of this document are educators in preschool through twelfth grade, higher education professors, business and military representatives, and community members. The group developed a set of competencies starting with "the end in mind." What concepts and skills would a "prepared graduate" in the 21st century possess after completing high school? The answers to this question framed the work that led to the development of four standards in social studies for grades P-12.

Return to the Social Studies Standards

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