The future looks busy in the world of history and social science. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has several projects happening that will impact schools, educators and students by changing the course requirements for history and social science programs, altering the licensure names and grade levels (and possibly the content area of the licenses) and establishing a history assessment as a graduation requirement for students.

Currently, a number of educators are involved in the revision of the history and social science curriculum frameworks. The Massachusetts Teachers Association is closely monitoring proposals and changes for licensure and student assessment. Keep an eye on and for opportunities for educator input an public comment on proposals.

Licensure Changes

In June 2017, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved changes to teacher licenses. The History license is now offered at the 5-12 grade level. The Political Science/Political Philosophy license has been changed to the Social Science and is available for grades 5-12. More information on all the changes to educator licensure can be found here.

At time of press, there are no proposed changes to the content areas covered by the History 5-12 license or the Social Science 5-12 license (formerly Political Science/Political Philosophy).

However, it is possible that future changes to the subject matter knowledge requirements of the license may follow the publication of the revised History and Social Science frameworks.

Curriculum Frameworks

DESE is working on revising the History and Social Science curriculum frameworks. An update on the Review of the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework progress was provided at the September 2017 BESE meeting.

The DESE reported on an educator survey related to this 2003 frameworks. The results showed educators are not exactly in love with the existing document.

DESE also shared an update on scope and sequence for individual courses:

The proposed scope and sequence includes a few recent adjustments in an effort to best accommodate a new full year civics course in the middle school grades while minimizing impact on existing curricula. The scope and sequence:

  • Emphasizes civics as a major focus for the standards across the grades;
  • Establishes a full year study of the philosophical foundations of United States democratic government, its institutions, and political system, and Massachusetts government at grade 8;
  • Promotes coherence for civics, government and U.S. history at grades Pre-K-3, 5, 8 and through the courses in the high school grades;
  • Promotes coherence for world geography and world history at grades 2, 4, 6, 7, and through the courses in the high school grades;
  • Establishes a two-year sequence of world geography and world history at grades 6 and 7 that incorporates content currently taught in these grades with the addition of some content from World History I;
  • Establishes the course “Modern World History, 1500-Present;”
  • Preserves and updates the current elective options at grade 12, most notably American Government and Economics.

A draft of the framework is expected in December 2017 and public comment period is expected to open in late January 2018.

History and Social Science Graduation Requirement

The BESE is interested in establishing a graduation requirement related to history and social sciences. The DESE is exploring options for developing an assessment in history and/or civics that will form part of the competency determination required to earn a Massachusetts public high school diploma.

No timeline has been established for developing or implementing the assessment at time of press. Stay tuned.

More information on the curriculum framework development and the assessment development is available at  home page for the DESE History and Social Science Standards Review Panel.



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