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Social Studies

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News & Announcements

  • Legislation Impacting Social Studies 2019 - 2021:  During the 2019, 2020, and 2021 legislative sessions, several bills affecting social studies have been signed into law.  This document provides a brief overview of the elements of each law.  That which is specific to the local school districts are in italics. Since this document provides only an overview, districts are encouraged to look at the legislation for specific details.
  • NEW!  The Holocaust and Genocide Resource Bank is now available!!  This resource bank is the work of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Committee.  The committee used a vetting tool to determine the quality, usability, and alignment with the Holocaust and Genocide standards for selection of collection resources.   
  • Just Released!  High Impact Instructional Strategies for the Social Studies Classroom Modules:  These modules represent a few high impact instructional strategies for the social studies classroom.   While there are numerous teaching strategies for effective social studies instruction, the research on high-impact instruction in social studies (in terms of a positive impact on student learning) focuses primarily in two areas: historical thinking, and civic knowledge and skills for citizenship. History education researchers tend to focus on how students analyze multiple historical documents and develop historical arguments, while civic education researchers focus on students’ evaluating information about public issues from multiple sources and viewpoints and develop reasoned judgments (Barton, K.C. & Avery, P.G., 2016, p. 1002). In addition to instructional strategies, each module provides examples that can be used in the classroom, as well as resources for further learning.
  • Social Studies Standards Revision Process Has Begun: Academic standards in social studies, dance, drama/theatre arts, music, and visual arts are being revised in 2021-2022, as a result of a new standards revision schedule required under House Bill 20-1032 (section C.R.S. 22-7-1005(6)) passed during the 2020 legislative session. We encourage all stakeholders to contribute comments about the current standards by emailing the department at any time during the revision process . Your feedback will be used by review and revision committees to shape the updated standards.  Visit the  Social Studies Standards Revision webpage for updates and opportunities to provide feedback.
  • Holocaust and Genocide Education in Colorado Public Schools: On July 8, 2020, Governor Polis signed into law HB20 – 1336.  This legislation includes several elements focusing on the teaching of the Holocaust and Genocide in Colorado.  Specifically, on or before July 1, 2023, each school district Board of Education and charter school shall incorporate academic standards on Holocaust and Genocide studies into an existing course that is currently a condition of high school graduation.  Said standards shall be recommended by a stakeholder committee and adopted, on or before July 1, 2021, by the State Board of Education and should identify the knowledge and skills that students should acquire related to Holocaust and Genocide studies, including but not limited to the Armenian genocide.  In addition, the CDE shall create and maintain a publicly available resource bank of materials pertaining to Holocaust and genocide, no later than July 1, 2021.  To learn more about this legislation click here.
  • History, Culture, Social Contributions, and Civil Government in Education Commission: During the 2019 legislative session, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 19-1192 concerning the Inclusion of Matters Relating to American Minorities in the Teaching of Social Contributions in History and Civil Government in Public Schools.  This legislation creates a Commission appointed by the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, and the President of the State Historical Society.  To learn more about the 1192 Commission, click here.

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Academic Standards

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.

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Curriculum Support

Article IX, Section 16 of Colorado's constitution states, "Neither the general assembly nor the state board of education shall have power to prescribe textbooks to be used in the public schools." However, CDE can still serve as an advisor to help districts and schools adopt, adapt, develop, or use the materials of their choice.

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Instructional Support

Instructional support is grounded in CDE's shared approach to Best, First Instruction as well as practices and strategies supported by professional organizations and scholars at the leading edge of social studies education.

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There are many opportunities to connect and grow as a professional educator with the larger Social Studies education community.

Noteworthy News

  1. Nuu~ciu Strong: A Colorado Fourth Grade Resource Guide, Lessons About the Ute People of Colorado. Nuu~ciu Strong is a resource guide for fourth grade teachers to use to support teaching the history, culture, and present lives of the Ute People.  This resource was developed in collaboration with Colorado's Ute Tribes, the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, the Colorado Department of Education, History Colorado, the Denver Public Library, the Denver Art Museum, and educators statewide.

  2. Elementary Primary Source Sets!   A collaborative of educators, museum personnel, and others worked together to create primary source sets for grades K-6. Currently, there are at least 3 primary source sets for each grade level. Also, look for the  primary source analysis sheets geared specifically to elementary students!  The worksheets can be found on the Elementary Primary Source Sets webpage.

  3. The Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year Award  The National History Teacher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding K–12 American history teachers across the country. The 2021 award honors outstanding elementary or secondary school teachers. Nominate a teacher today!

  4. United States Senate Youth Program  Colorado’s United States Senate Youth Application Now Available!  The application for Colorado high school juniors and seniors to participate in the 60th annual United States Senate Youth Program is now available.  For more information, visit this webpage:

  5. Social Studies Instruction and Reading Comprehension: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study A new study finds that social studies instruction in elementary school improves student's reading scores!  Here are the 2 key points from the study:
  6. Resources for Teaching About the Constitution. Constitution Day is recognized every year on September 17th. On December 8, 2004, Public Law 108-447 was signed into law, requiring schools receiving federal funds to inform and instruct all students on the importance of the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. Colorado is taking an active role in complying with this law and the education of students across the state.  Constitution Day resources from the Census Bureau.
  7. Civics as a Graduation Requirement  In 2004, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill requiring all high school students to pass a course in civics.  This is the only state graduation requirement.  Specifically, the law states, "Satisfactory completion of a course on the civil government of the United States and the state of Colorado ... shall be a condition of high school graduation in the public schools of this state.  Here is the full text of the law: CRS. 22-1-104.

For further assistance, please contact:

Stephanie Hartman, Ph.D.
Social Studies Content Specialist
P 303.866.6577 | C 720.498.2084