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Investigating History: For Administrators


Teachers of Investigating History and their fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students will create a foundation for lifelong knowledge and understanding of our nation's history and our relationship to the world.

District administrators and school principals will want to do everything possible to maximize the power of the opportunity inherent in Investigating History. This includes allowing teachers the time and space to master inquiry-based teaching and availing them of curriculum-based professional development.

The 2023-24 school year marks the official public launch of Investigating History for fifth, sixth and seventh grades. The curriculum is comprehensive, inclusive, and is offered free of charge. It requires teachers' expertise with culturally responsive, inquiry-based teaching to be skillfully brought to life for students. DESE provides a list of vetted and certified professional development providers to support teachers as they adopt and implement the curriculum. Support ranges from individual coaching to online courses to multi-day training. We strongly recommend that districts partner with one of these providers to leverage their expertise in Investigating History's content, pedagogy, and design. To learn more about setting the stage for success, please review the Investigating History Adoption and Implementation Guide.

The Investigating History curriculum for grades five, six, and seven is now available! Register here to learn more and gain early access to these just-released materials.

Administrators Quote #1
"I feel really excited that all of the sources have been vetted through a culturally responsive lens."
—Pilot Teacher
Administrators Quote #2
"My students are having meaningful discussions about big topics and ideas."
—Pilot Teacher
Administrators Quote #3
"My kids tell me that social studies is their favorite part of the day."
—Pilot Teacher

If you have questions or would like more information about Investigating History and available ongoing support and professional development, please email

Investigating History Home

Administrator FAQs

How can educators and the public be assured of the quality of Investigating History materials?

Each Investigating History unit goes through a rigorous development process before it is released to the public. Curriculum writers initially consult with subject-matter experts to ensure that the curriculum reflects the most accurate and up-to-date scholarship. Once drafted, materials are then vetted by numerous reviewers including historians, experts in social studies pedagogy, and Massachusetts teachers.

Curricular units are then piloted in classrooms across the state, reflecting a diversity of geography, student demographics, and teacher experience. Throughout the pilot, an independent, third-party evaluation team draws on classroom observations and artifacts, as well as interviews with teachers and students, in order to provide recommendations for improvement. Ultimately, when the materials are published, they will have gone through multiple rounds of piloting, feedback, and revision to ensure their quality and usability in classrooms.

When will Investigating History be available to the public? Will it cost money?

Investigating History is currently being piloted in 38 districts across Massachusetts, and access to the materials is currently limited to the pilot schools through the 2022-23 school year.

When released, Investigating History will be an open-source curriculum: free and available to anyone to use and modify. We currently anticipate published Investigating History on the following timetable:

  • In Spring 2023, we will have preview versions of the first unit of the year for grades five, six, and seven to help inform districts' choices about adoption and implementation.
  • Throughout the 2023-24 school year, we will publish the complete set of curricular materials for grades five, six, and seven; this will begin in late summer 2023 and continue on a rolling basis through the school year.
  • The third and fourth grade materials will be developed and piloted in a small number of classrooms through the 2023-24 school year and are currently slated for release beginning in Summer 2024.
When Investigating History is published, will schools be required to use it?

DESE does not mandate that schools or districts use any specific curricular materials. Investigating History is intended to provide schools with a vetted, high-quality curriculum and professional development option that is directly aligned to the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework. Whether to adopt these resources will be a decision made on a local level.

For teachers, schools, and districts who do choose to use the Investigating History materials, DESE is committed to helping them implement the curriculum thoughtfully within their given context, including identifying, training, and certifying professional development providers who are equipped to support districts and schools with the adoption and use of the materials. Depending on availability, grant funding may also be offered to cover some of the costs of implementing Investigating History.

Who is DESE working with to develop Investigating History?

DESE's lead partners in developing the curricular materials and associated professional development are Primary Source, a nonprofit organization based in the Boston area that has worked to advance global education in schools for more than thirty years, and Educurious, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that specializes in project-based curriculum and professional learning. The pilot curriculum evaluation is being conducted by researchers at Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

As part of this work, DESE has also worked with faculty from University of Massachusetts Boston's College of Education and Human Development, who led development of the design specifications for the materials, as well as researchers from Boston University's Wheelock College of Education and Human Development.

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.