Mass.gov
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
Students & Families Educators & Administrators Teaching, Learning & Testing Data & Accountability Finance & Funding About the Department Education Board  
>
>
>
>
>
>

Archived Information

History and Social Science
Curriculum Framework

VIII. Study Strands and Learning Standards:
History, Geography, Economics, and
Civics and Government Overview

To explore some of the important subjects and questions of human concern, we study history and social sciencesgeography, economics, and civics and government. These subjects overlap other social sciences as well as natural sciences and the humanities. A systematic and related study of these subjects is essential to a sound education and to an informed grasp of realities and possibilities in life. The four Study Strands and the twenty related Learning Standards below reflect these facts.

We can understand what has happened to people, and what they have thought and done, only by taking into account the circumstances of their own time and place. In Section IV, the main eras and events of United States and world history, geography, economics, and civic life, are presented in chronological order, as the essential Core Knowledge topics around which school curricula and courses in history and social science are to be designed.

The Study Strands and Learning Standards describe the main avenues of study in history and social science, including their relations to other subject matter fields. Events, past and present, are influenced by developments in every sphere of human life, and students who are aware of interdisciplinary connectedness will be best safeguarded from oversimplification.

The Study Strands and Learning Standards present teachers and students with significant subject matter to be learned, important skills to be acquired, and challenging questions to be asked, as they address the Core Knowledge topics in Section IV. Applied across the grades at rising levels of sophistication, the standards knit together teaching and learning in elementary, middle, and high schools. Taken together, the Core Knowledge topics, the Study Strands, and the Learning Standards identify much of what students should know and be able to do by their study of history and social science.

History Strand

Historical time is the lens through which we see change and continuity in human affairs. History allows us to know our place in time, the first mark of educated citizens. To know ourselves and others, we compare our lives with those of people in other eras and other circumstances. Ignorance of history isolates us from human realities, a mortal weakness in a democratic society, leaving us prey to mere nostalgia, or censored versions of the past spread by partisan interests that tempt us to self-delusion, unreasonable expectations, and simplistic and mistaken answers to hard problems.

School instruction in history should, of course, pay attention to the principles and techniques of the discipline itself: standards of objectivity, practice with original sources, weighing evidence, forming and testing hypotheses. But much of the emphasis in schools should be on what historians can agree has happened in the past. What have men and women done, and thought, and suffered, and accomplished? Without stories of real people, the study of history shrinks to lists of isolated facts and barren concepts, empty of the human drama that moves students to see why facts and concepts are worth the work it takes to learn them.

The study of history helps students to take the point of view of others in the past and, while holding to their own moral principles, to exercise historical empathy rather than rushing to uninformed judgments. Students also confront ideas, people, and forces that work for change, and others that work for continuity. They understand why the two are often seen by contemporaries as opposed and mutually exclusive. Longer perspective tells them that change often depends upon continuity, and continuity upon change, as in the alteration and duration of the United States Constitution, or in the historian Macaulay's plea to the British House of Commons in 1831 to "reform that you may preserve."

Perhaps most important, the study of historyin conjunction with biography, literature, and philosophyenriches the opportunities of students to choose their own paths in public and private life. The dignity of free choice depends upon their knowing alternatives open to them, the immense range of ways in which people in the past have tried to order their political, economic, and social lives, and to pursue personal integrity, meaningful work, and private happiness. A democratic education seeks to enable as many citizens as possible to choose wisely for themselves. Knowing the past is a precondition to making responsible choices in the present.

The Learning Standards for History are:

  1. Chronology and Cause. Students will understand the chronological order of historical events and recognize the complexity of historical cause and effect, including the interaction of forces from different spheres of human activity, the importance of ideas, and of individual choices, actions, and character.
  2. Historical Understanding. Students will understand the meaning, implications, and import of historical events, while recognizing the contingency and unpredictability of historyhow events could have taken other directionsby studying past ideas as they were thought, and past events as they were lived, by people of the time.
  3. Research, Evidence, and Point of View. Students will acquire the ability to frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research; to collect, evaluate, and employ information from primary and secondary sources, and to apply it in oral and written presentations. They will understand the many kinds and uses of evidence; and by comparing competing historical narratives, they will differentiate historical fact from historical interpretation and from fiction.
  4. Society, Diversity, Commonality, and the Individual. As a vast nation, the overwhelming majority of whose population derives from waves of immigration from many lands, the United States has a citizenry that exhibits a broad diversity in terms of race, ethnic traditions, and religious beliefs. The history of the United States exhibits perhaps the most important endeavor to establish a civilization founded on the principles that all people are created equal, that it is the purpose of government to secure the inalienable rights of all individuals, and that government derives "its just powers from the consent of the governed." It is also true, however, that federal, state, and local governments, as well as the people themselves, have often fallen short in practice of actualizing these high ideals, the most egregious violation being the acceptance of slavery in some states until the Civil War. Students should be expected to learn of the complex interplay that has existed from the beginning of our country between American ideals and American practice in the pursuit of realizing the goals of the Declaration of Independence for all people. While attending to the distinct contributions that immigrants from various lands and of various creeds, along with Native Americans, have made to our nationhood, students should be taught above all the importance of our common citizenship and the imperative to treat all individuals with the respect for their dignity called for by the Declaration of Independence.
  5. Interdisciplinary Learning: Religion, Ethics, Philosophy, and Literature in History. Students will describe and explain fundamental tenets of major world religions; basic ideals of ethics, including justice, consideration for others, and respect for human rights; differing conceptions of human nature; and influences over time of religion, ethics, and ideas of human nature in the arts, political and economic theories and ideologies, societal norms, education of the public, and the conduct of individual lives. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework.)
  6. Interdisciplinary Learning: Natural Science, Mathematics, and Technology in History. Students will describe and explain major advances, discoveries, and inventions over time in natural science, mathematics, and technology; explain some of their effects and influences in the past and present on human life, thought, and health, including use of natural resources, production and distribution and consumption of goods, exploration, warfare, and communication. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts Mathematics and Science/Technology Curriculum Frameworks.)

Geography Strand

Geography, like the other social sciences, requires substantive knowledge, intellectual skills, and concepts. A student must acquire substantive knowledge such as the names and locations of major cities; intellectual skills such as accurate reading of maps; and concepts such as longitude and latitude. These components of geography, however, are best taught together. Thus, students learning the names and locations of major cities should learn how to find those cities on maps and to fix their location by the standard references of longitude and latitude.

The teaching of geography has sometimes been unnecessarily limited by overemphasis on "sense of place," "global connectedness," and "environment." Geography is not primarily about gaining a "sense of place." Children easily place themselves in relation to their home, family, friends, school, and neighborhood. By instruction in geography, teachers may build upon the natural interest children have in learning more about familiar places so as to cultivate their interest in the larger, unfamiliar world. Most students will never know from direct experience what it is like to grow up on another continent. Geography, like history, will open new experiences of mind and imagination, and help students to discern both the humanity they share with people who once seemed strange and distant and also very real individual and cultural differences.

In studying geography, students learn of people trying to deal with environmental limitations and opportunities, and making consequential decisions in other matters. The study of geography includes learning details that have little to do with physical environment, such as what languages people speak, just as it offers the opportunity to learn about the choices societies make, such as to inhabit flood-prone areas to exploit fertile soils or to take advantage of a coast to engage in trade rather than fishing. Geography should therefore not be taught as though human communities are no more than responses to environmental conditions.

Although the study of geography may serve as preparation for "our new global realitiesthe interconnected, integrated, and interdependent character of our lives," (Geography for Life "National Geography Standards," 1994), geography does not treat differences of time and place as merely superficial. The study of geography is as much about the effects of distance, isolation, inaccessibility, and adaptation to particular circumstances as it is about proximity, connection, and commonality.

Geography is historical in two important ways: Our knowledge of world geography developed slowly over the course of human history, and geography itself is a study of historical change. As part of the study of geography, students must learn about the development of scientific observation, mapping, exploration, intercultural contact, and instrumentation. Students must also learn about population growth, prehistoric and historical human migrations, settlement patterns, and economic adaptations to diverse environments. For such reasons, the National Geography Standards define a "geographically informed person" as one who "can explain the world in terms of what is where and why it is there . . . can identify places in terms of location, distance, shape, pattern, and arrangement . . . [and who] understands how Earth's physical and human systems are connected and interact."

The attraction of geographical study lies in its broad application, from students' own region to the nation and the continent, and beyond. Students begin with theories of the earth's origin and geologic change and proceed to the latest scientific findings and technological devices for dealing with distance, climate, and resources. Geography builds a range of skills with maps, globes, charts, and photos, with instruments for navigation, weather reporting, geological and astronomical exploration. Students examine and weigh evidence from many sourcesdata on trade patterns, population, migrations, epidemics, and environmental changes.

The Learning Standards for Geography are:

  1. Physical Spaces of the Earth. Students will describe earth's natural features and their physical and biological characteristics; they will be able to visualize and map oceans and continents; mountain chains and rivers; forest, plain, and desert; resources both above and below ground; and conditions of climate and seasons.
  2. Places and Regions of the World. Students will identify and explain the location and features of places and systems organized over time, including boundaries of nations and regions; cities and towns; capitals and commercial centers; roads, rails, and canals; dams, harbors, and fortifications; and routes of trade and invasion.
  3. The Effects of Geography. Students will learn how physical environments have influenced particular cultures, economies, and political systems, and how geographic factors have affected population distribution, human migration, and other prehistoric and historical developments, such as agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and transportation.
  4. Human Alteration of Environments. Students will describe the ways in which human activity has changed the world, such as removing natural barriers; transplanting some animal and plant species, and eliminating others; increasing or decreasing the fertility of land; and the mining of resources. They explain how science, technology, and institutions of many kinds have affected human capacity to alter environments.

Economics Strand

The purpose of the economics strand in the history and social science curriculum framework is to teach students the essential facts, forms of reasoning, and concepts required to understand economic realities. A student should for example, acquire substantive knowledge such as the names and denominations of currency, forms of reasoning such as calculation of costs and benefits (including marginal costs and benefits), and concepts such as saving, borrowing, and debt. Where possible, these components should be taught together. Thus, students learning the names of currency should learn that money can be used to measure the value of work, and that money earned from working can be saved, loaned, used to pay debt.

Economics is an inherently difficult subject for students in the PreK-12 grades. Unlike history, economics does not naturally unfold as narrative. Much of economics concerns relations among things happening almost in a single moment and calculations of things that might occur but do not, in fact, happen. To a large extent, economics deals with the mundane and practical realities of human existence.

To succeed, a PreK-12 economics curriculum must begin in the naturally developing intellectual interests of the child and must connect those interests with other concerns to which the child will give sustained attention. The learning standards in economics therefore are explicitly developmental. In each standard, the focus for the early grades is telling stories and laying other groundwork for later more systematic exploration of economic themes. The focus for the later grades is connecting the economics facts, reasoning, and concepts to the work that students are pursuing in history, geography, and civics and government.

Economics in its most rudimentary sense is the study of how scarce means are allocated among competing ends. Even very young children have an excellent intuitive grasp of such allocation. If wishing to play conflicts with wishing to eat or sleep, the child must choose to allocate time among competing ends. Playing alone with a toy or sharing it with others, the child is naturally obliged to make a choice that has a certain economic character.

Children do not need to study economics to learn that their choices are influenced by many things, such as their sense of right and wrong, their friendships, the impositions of external authority, and calculation of self-interest. By studying economics, however, they learn that choosing among competing ends and the most effective means to their achievement and responding to incentives are essential human activities; that an important component of the life of every individual consists of making economic choices; that some important economic choices are made by individuals and others by communities; and that human societies are formed around the economic choices available to individuals and communities. These are among the fundamental concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Similarly, very young children have a sense of personal possession, which usually serves as the foundation for later ideas of property and ownership. Children do not need to study economics to learn that there are limits on what use they can make of the objects and places around them. By studying economics, however, they learn that rights in property are an essential aspect of human communities, that different communities organize these rights in dissimilar ways; that ideas about property influence the formation of government and laws; and that property is best understood as an essential component of a larger social and economic order.

Other fundamental economic concepts are also rooted in experience familiar to every child. Children learn at an early age basic ideas about individual effort, the importance of independence and inescapable areas of dependence, exchange, fairness, cooperation, purposive effort, and reward. We teach economics not to train children to become economic actors. They will become economizers regardless of how they are educated, because that is part of human nature. Rather, we teach economics to help children understand a complex aspect of the broader world which existed before they were born and which lies beyond what they can discover for themselves.

These lessons are best taught not as timeless abstractions but as reflections on the actual choices made by individuals and communities. In teaching history, geography, and civics and government, teachers will have many opportunities to direct students to important economic considerations, such as the nature of incentives, the resources available to people in a particular situation, the amount of capital and labor needed to exploit a resource, the nature of contemporary markets for what people can produce, the constraints of climate, transportation, storage, and security, the effects of laws, taxes, the honesty of government officials, and the reliability of courts, and the degree to which economic activity reflected private and public investment in such things as roads, canals, public order, and protection of frontiers.

The economy in which today's students are beginning to participate is profoundly rooted in choices made in the past. Thus, the study of the economic components of history, geography, and civics is not merely illustrative. Instruction in economics must include explicit instruction in the economic history of Massachusetts, New England, and the United States. Students should know the size of populations at intervals in our history, the relative concentration on agriculture, industry, and commerce, the rise and decline of particular industries, the history of labor, including organized labor, the growth of banking and finance, the record of economic expansions and recessions over the course of American history from early colonial times, and the influence of various views on how government can best serve the economic interests of the state and the nation.

Students must also understand the economy of the present. Their knowledge of economic history will assist them, but students will also have to learn facts and concepts that have limited historical precedents. Students should learn, for example, what the Federal Reserve Bank does, how the Bureau of Labor calculates unemployment statistics, and the relative size of the components of the federal budget. Students must also learn about the increase in the speed of modern commerce, the rising importance of intellectual property, and the emergence of multinational and global markets.

The study of economics in the PreK-12 curriculum differs significantly from the discipline of economics as it is pursued at higher educational levels. Economists who work at those levels generally conceive of their discipline as the development of abstract models of selected aspects of human behavior. These models are frequently presented in mathematical form (including calculus) and always subsume ideas and terms that require familiarity with an advanced set of concepts about economic realities. Because of the natural hierarchy of knowledge, a student cannot proceed with study of the formal discipline of economics without first having mastered knowledge and skills required in a sound senior high school curriculum.

There are, however, many important pre-disciplinary components of economics that are teachable at the PreK-12 level and that form a coherent body of knowledge, skills, and concepts that ready an individual to become a competent participant in our society. The learning standards in this strand lay the foundation for students to become intelligent workers, employers, consumers, and citizens. The economics standards also aim to cultivate students' understanding of the broader choices faced by individuals and by the communities in which they participate. Knowledge of economics should inform participation at every level of civic activity from neighborhood and township matters to the concerns of our state and our nation, and our relations with other nations.

The Learning Standards for Economics are:

  1. Fundamental Economic Concepts. Students will understand fundamental economic concepts, including choice, ownership, exchange, cooperation, competition, purposive effort, entrepreneurship, incentive, and money. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on clarity of understanding, not terminology. Instruction in fundamental economics concepts will continue through grade 12, and will develop progressively to include mastery of more complex concepts and accurate use of important terms.
  2. Economic Reasoning. Students will demonstrate understanding of supply and demand, price, labor markets, the costs of capital, factors affecting production, distribution, and consumption, relations among such factors, the nature of goods and services, incentives, financial markets, cost-benefit (including marginal costbenefit) analysis, fairness, and the value of trade. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children how to recognize the components of a successful project and to identify the elements of progressively more complex stories that describe work, industry, or other economic activity. Instruction in economic reasoning will continue through grade 12, and will develop to include understanding of the complex nature of economic reasoning and accurate use of important terms.
  3. American and Massachusetts Economic History. Students will describe the development of the American economy, including Massachusetts and New England, from colonial times to the present. The subjects the students will master will include the size of populations at intervals in our history; the relative concentration on agriculture, industry, and commerce; the rise and decline of particular industries; the history of labor, including organized labor; the growth of banking and finance; the record of economic expansions and recessions; and the influence of various views on how government can best serve the economic interests of the state and the nation. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children stories about American economic history. Instruction in American economic history in later grades will focus on detailed knowledge of place, event, circumstance, and relation to other historical, geographic, and civic matters.
  4. Today's Economy. Students will describe the distinctive aspects of the contemporary economy of the United States and the world. The subjects the students will master will include the historically unprecedented speed of economic transactions, the role of quickly-disseminated information in the contemporary world economy, the growth in the size and scale of markets, the role of modern technology, the rise of service industries, and changes in the role of labor.
  5. Theories of Economy. Students will describe and compare the major theories of economy, and will identify the individuals and historical circumstances in which these theories were developed. Students will explain, for example, the theories of feudalism, mercantilism, communism, capitalism, and free-market economies, and will be able to describe and explain the differences among several instances of each.

Civics and Government Strand

Civics is a part of political science: the study of the rights and duties of citizens and the nature of civic virtue. To exercise their rights and fulfill their duties responsibly, citizens must learn what their rights and duties are and acquire respect for the equal rights of others. Civic knowledge and civic virtue have long been fundamental aims of the education of the public in representative democracies and constitutional republics.

However, even knowledgeable and responsible citizens cannot all by themselves secure or safeguard human and civil rights. The fundamental ideals of democracy-liberty and justice for all-depend also for their security on institutions of government; laws that apply equally to those who govern and the governed; and nongovernmental religious, social, and economic institutions.

Students need to learn, then, not only the equal rights and the duties of citizens, but also the purposes, form, and limited extent of their government and its authority. They should learn as well fundamental differences between this form and other forms of government.

Students must learn concepts and principles essential to American constitutionalism-representative government, the purposes of a written constitution, citizenship, rights (including property, freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, and the press), duties, ordered liberty, justice, privacy, law, authority, power, government. And they must learn facts the history of constitutional and democratic ideals and how they have fared, sacrifices made and suffering endured for the sake of liberty and justice, advances in the achievement of justice for all and grim failures and unjust discrimination. Students should become familiar with reasoning about the principles of American constitutionalism by considering the case that has been made for the principles by statesmen such as Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and also arguments offered by Antifederalists and positions taken later by Southern Secessionists.

The Founding Documents of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including its Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants, are not mere relics to be treasured because they are old. They are the living foundation of the United States as an experiment in ordered liberty, vital safeguards of the rights of the public, including students, and, imperfect though their implementation may be, they are the basis of this country's never-ending quest for justice.

The yearning for freedom and justice transcends national and temporal boundaries. But the achievement of these goals has varied dramatically depending on political systems, traditions, popular education, and such factors as religion, geographical conditions, and patterns of prejudice.

The narrative of the history of government, including government by consent of the people, is long and suspenseful. It never ends. Students need to learn that the future of freedom can never be taken for granted.

The Learning Standards for Civics and Government are:

  1. Authority, Responsibility, and Power. Students will explain forms of authority in government and other institutions; explain purposes of authority and distinguish authority from mere power, as in "a government of laws, but not of men"; and describe responsible and irresponsible exercise of both authority and power.
  2. The Founding Documents. Students will learn in progressively greater detail the content and the history of the Founding Documents of the United States-the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and selected Federalist papers (as required by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993). They will assess the reasoning, purposes, and effectiveness of the documents; and, similarly, elements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  3. Principles and Practices of American Government. Students will describe how the United States government functions at the local, state, national, and international levels, with attention to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants, and the basic elements of its Frame of Government; analyze the background and evolution of constitutional and democratic government in the United States to the present day; and explain the place of institutions of government in securing the rights of citizens.
  4. Citizenship. Students will learn the rights and duties of citizens and the principle of equal rights for all; consider the nature of civic virtue in a school, a community, a nation; and identify major obstacles and threats to civil rights.
  5. Forms of Government. Students will study, compare, contrast, and analyze diverse forms of government; the ways of life and opportunities they permit, promote, and prohibit; and their effects on human rights. They will evaluate forms of government in terms of justice, ordered liberty, efficiency, public safety, educational opportunity, and economic and social mobility.

Overview - Learning Standards

The Learning Standards for History are:

  1. Chronology and Cause. Students will understand the chronological order of historical events and recognize the complexity of historical cause and effect, including the interaction of forces from different spheres of human activity, the importance of ideas, and of individual choices, actions, and character.
  2. Historical Understanding. Students will understand the meaning, implications, and import of historical events, while recognizing the contingency and unpredictability of historyhow events could have taken other directionsby studying past ideas as they were thought, and past events as they were lived, by people of the time.
  3. Research, Evidence, and Point of View. Students will acquire the ability to frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research; to collect, evaluate, and employ information from primary and secondary sources, and to apply it in oral and written presentations. They will understand the many kinds and uses of evidence; and by comparing competing historical narratives, they will differentiate historical fact from historical interpretation and from fiction.
  4. Society, Diversity, Commonality, and the Individual. As a vast nation, the overwhelming majority of whose population derives from waves of immigration from many lands, the United States has a citizenry that exhibits a broad diversity in terms of race, ethnic traditions, and religious beliefs. The history of the United States exhibits perhaps the most important endeavor to establish a civilization founded on the principles that all people are created equal, that it is the purpose of government to secure the inalienable rights of all individuals, and that government derives "its just powers from the consent of the governed." It is also true, however, that federal, state, and local governments, as well as the people themselves, have often fallen short in practice of actualizing these high ideals, the most egregious violation being the acceptance of slavery in some states until the Civil War. Students should be expected to learn of the complex interplay that has existed from the beginning of our country between American ideals and American practice in the pursuit of realizing the goals of the Declaration of Independence for all people. While attending to the distinct contributions that immigrants from various lands and of various creeds, along with Native Americans, have made to our nationhood, students should be taught above all the importance of our common citizenship and the imperative to treat all individuals with the respect for their dignity called for by the Declaration of Independence.
  5. Interdisciplinary Learning: Religion, Ethics, Philosophy, and Literature in History. Students will describe and explain fundamental tenets of major world religions; basic ideals of ethics, including justice, consideration for others, and respect for human rights; differing conceptions of human nature; and influences over time of religion, ethics, and ideas of human nature in the arts, political and economic theories and ideologies, societal norms, education of the public, and the conduct of individual lives. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks.)
  6. Interdisciplinary Learning: Natural Science, Mathematics, and Technology in History. Students will describe and explain major advances, discoveries, and inventions over time in natural science, mathematics, and technology; explain some of their effects and influences in the past and present on human life, thought, and health, including use of natural resources, production and distribution and consumption of goods, exploration, warfare, and communication. (See also relevant strands in the Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks.)

The Learning Standards for Geography are:

  1. Physical Spaces of the Earth. Students will describe earth's natural features and their physical and biological characteristics; they will be able to visualize and map oceans and continents; mountain chains and rivers; forest, plain, and desert; resources both above and below ground; and conditions of climate and seasons.
  2. Places and Regions of the World. Students will identify and explain the location and features of places and systems organized over time, including boundaries of nations and regions; cities and towns; capitals and commercial centers; roads, rails, and canals; dams, harbors, and fortifications; and routes of trade and invasion.
  3. The Effects of Geography. Students will learn how physical environments have influenced particular cultures, economies, and political systems, and how geographic factors have affected population distribution, human migration, and other prehistoric and historical developments, such as agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and transportation.
  4. Human Alteration of Environments. Students will describe the ways in which human activity has changed the world, such as removing natural barriers; transplanting some animal and plant species, and eliminating others; increasing or decreasing the fertility of land; and the mining of resources. They explain how science, technology, and institutions of many kinds have affected human capacity to alter environments.

The Learning Standards for Economics are:

  1. Fundamental Economic Concepts. Students will understand fundamental economic concepts, including choice, ownership, exchange, cooperation, competition, purposive effort, entrepreneurship, incentive, and money. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on clarity of understanding, not terminology. Instruction in fundamental economics concepts will continue through grade 12, and will develop progressively to include mastery of more complex concepts and accurate use of important terms.
  2. Economic Reasoning. Students will demonstrate understanding of supply and demand, price, labor markets, the costs of capital, factors affecting production, distribution, and consumption, relations among such factors, the nature of goods and services, incentives, financial markets, cost-benefit (including marginal cost-benefit) analysis, fairness, and the value of trade. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children how to recognize the components of a successful project and to identify the elements of progressively more complex stories that describe work, industry, or other economic activity. Instruction in economic reasoning will continue through grade 12, and will develop to include understanding of the complex nature of economic reasoning and accurate use of important terms.
  3. American and Massachusetts Economic History. Students will describe the development of the American economy, including Massachusetts and New England, from colonial times to the present. The subjects the students will master will include the size of populations at intervals in our history; the relative concentration on agriculture, industry, and commerce; the rise and decline of particular industries; the history of labor, including organized labor; the growth of banking and finance; the record of economic expansions and recessions; and the influence of various views on how government can best serve the economic interests of the state and the nation. The emphasis in the lower grades will be on teaching children stories about American economic history. Instruction in American economic history in later grades will focus on detailed knowledge of place, event, circumstance, and relation to other historical, geographic, and civic matters.
  4. Today's Economy. Students will describe the distinctive aspects of the contemporary economy of the United States and the world. The subjects the students will master will include the historically unprecedented speed of economic transactions, the role of quickly-disseminated information in the contemporary world economy, the growth in the size and scale of markets, the role of modern technology, the rise of service industries, and changes in the role of labor.
  5. Theories of Economy. Students will describe and compare the major theories of economy, and will identify the individuals and historical circumstances in which these theories were developed. Students will explain, for example, the theories of feudalism, mercantilism, communism, capitalism, and free-market economies, and will be able to describe and explain the differences among several instances of each.

The Learning Standards for Civics and Government are:

  1. Authority, Responsibility, and Power. Students will explain forms of authority in government and other institutions; explain purposes of authority and distinguish authority from mere power, as in "a government of laws, but not of men"; and describe responsible and irresponsible exercise of both authority and power.
  2. The Founding Documents. Students will learn in progressively greater detail the content and the history of the Founding Documents of the United Statesthe Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and selected Federalist papers (as required by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993). They will assess the reasoning, purposes, and effectiveness of the documents; and, similarly, elements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  3. Principles and Practices of American Government. Students will describe how the United States government functions at the local, state, national, and international levels, with attention to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants, and the basic elements of its Frame of Government; analyze the background and evolution of constitutional and democratic government in the United States to the present day; and explain the place of institutions of government in securing the rights of citizens.
  4. Citizenship. Students will learn the rights and duties of citizens and the principle of equal rights for all; consider the nature of civic virtue in a school, a community, a nation; and identify major obstacles and threats to civil rights.
  5. Forms of Government. Students will study, compare, contrast, and analyze diverse forms of government; the ways of life and opportunities they permit, promote, and prohibit; and their effects on human rights. They will evaluate forms of government in terms of justice, ordered liberty, efficiency, public safety, educational opportunity, and economic and social mobility.

For all Learning Standards as they apply in PreK-4, see also, The Development of Selected History and Social Science Learning Capacities, PreK-4, Section VII, pp. 59-62.



Last Updated: September 1, 1997
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search·Public Records Requests · A-Z Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact ESE