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Introduction to the CAS for Social Studies 2022
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Introduction to the Colorado Academic Standards for Social Studies
Purpose of Social Studies
Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. Standards are different from curricula. Standards are broad learning goals articulating what students should know, understand and be able to do at a given time. A curriculum is an organized plan of instruction, comprised of a sequence of instructional units, that engages students in mastering the standards.
The Colorado Academic Standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century. The social studies standards were revised and then approved by the State Board of Education in November 2022, and districts will be expected to implement them by the fall of 2024. The social studies standards are organized into five separate disciplines: history, geography, economics, civics, and personal financial literacy.
- Apply the process of inquiry to examine and analyze how historical knowledge is viewed, constructed, and interpreted.
- Analyze historical time periods and patterns of continuity and change, through multiple perspectives, within and among cultures and societies.
- Apply geographic representations and perspectives to analyze human movement, spatial patterns, systems, and the connections and relationships among them.
- Examine the characteristics of places and regions, and the changing nature among geographic and human interactions.
- Evaluate how scarce resources are allocated in societies through the analysis of individual choice, market interaction, and public policy.
- Express an understanding of how civic participation affects policy by applying the rights and responsibilities of a citizen.
- Analyze the origins, structures, and functions of governments to evaluate the impact on citizens and the global society.
- Apply economic reasoning skills to make informed personal financial decisions.
The Colorado Academic Standards in social studies are organized by content area. The five standards of social studies are:
History prepares students to develop critical thinking skills in an effort to explain the human experience through events of the past. History develops an understanding of perspectives, defines identity and creates insight into how social, political, and economic factors can change, while building inquiry, judgment and decision-making skills. History enhances the ability to read varied sources and develop the skills necessary to analyze, interpret, evaluate, and communicate.
The study of geography creates an informed person with an understanding of spatial perspective and technologies for spatial analysis; and an awareness of the interdependence of the world regions and resources, and how places are connected at the local, national, and global scales. Students understand the complexity and interrelatedness of people, places, and environments. Geography helps students appreciate the dynamic relationships and complexity of the world.
Economics teaches how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively; how people make decisions, how people interact in the domestic and international markets, and how forces and trends affect the economy as a whole. The two branches of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) are widely used economic indicators.
Civics teaches students the complexity of the origins, structure, and functions of governments; the rights, roles, and responsibilities of citizenship; the importance of law; and the skills necessary to participate in all levels of government. Civics is a foundational component of the educational experience and critical to the continued success of our society. A democratic and free society relies on the skills, knowledge, engagement and virtue of its citizens.
5. Personal Financial Literacy
Personal financial literacy applies the economic way of thinking to help individuals understand how to manage their own scarce resources using a logical decision-making process of prioritization based on analysis of the costs and benefits of every choice. Personal financial literacy teaches students an understanding of concepts like saving, investing, and debt that leads to an overall sense of financial well-being. Skills such as budgeting, paying for college, setting short and long-term financial goals, and money management are integral to the financial health of all students.
The Revision Process
In revising the standards, the Colorado Department of Education began with the solicitation of public input on the revision process and engaged external experts to provide analyses of current standards in relation to national and international models. A committee of Colorado educators was selected from a pool of applicants to be part of the social studies review and revision committee.
In addition to responding to public feedback on the 2018 version of the Colorado Academic Standards for social studies, the social studies standards review and revision committee was required to implement and respond to new legislative requirements for the standards.
- House Bill 19-1192: History, Culture, and Civil Government in Education Commission recommendations. This bill requires that the recommendations from this commission be considered during the standards review process.
- House Bill 20-1336: Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This bill required the State Board to adopt standards for Holocaust and genocide by July 2021.
- House Bill 21-1200: Revise Financial Literacy Standards. This bill required the inclusion of new topics in the personal financial literacy standards.
- House Bill 21-1103: Media Literacy Standards. This bill required the review process to consider the recommendations of the Media Literacy Advisory Committee established under House Bill 19-1110.
- Senate Bill 21-067: Strengthening Civics Education. This bill required the inclusion of specific topics in the civics standards.
A Note About LGBTQ References
The purpose of House Bill 19-1192 was to ensure that the history, culture and social contributions of minority groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Indigenous peoples, Asian Americans, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals were recognized in Colorado's history and civics standards.
The requirement to teach about the history, culture and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals is not an obligation to teach comprehensive human sexuality education which is optional under state law (C.R.S. 22-1-128). The inclusion of diverse narratives in history and civics is intended to provide a broad understanding about the stories of all groups and individuals who have contributed to the development and enduring legacies of the United States. Furthermore, it is important that all children in classrooms across Colorado feel respected, included, and are treated with dignity. The social studies standards are premised on this common value.