By Lauren Gallicchio
Greetings social studies educators and welcome to the start of a new school year!
At the end of every summer, I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Seuss: “My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” As students head back to school in Kentucky, it is time to recap the summer and review the new additions to social studies education.
This summer and past legislative session were a busy time for social studies in the Commonwealth. Educators attended civics symposiums, focused on implementing a new civics test and considered offering a social studies course on the historical impact and literary style of Biblical texts.
2017 Kentucky Civics Symposium
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) hosted several Civics Symposiums across the state. The symposiums provided educators with hands-on support in creating civic curricula with robust, relevant learning experiences for students in an effort to promote the “doing” of social studies through action civics.
Participants learned new social studies-related strategies that engage and motivate students, dug into effective strategies for improved student achievement, gained deeper understanding of civics best practices and discussed current education issues with Kentucky’s elected officials. Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, Rep. John “Bam” Carney, Sen. Dennis Parrett and Rep. Jill York joined us at the various symposium locations to take questions from social studies educators.
The 2017 legislative session impacted social studies with the passage of Senate Bill 159 (2017) and House Bill 128 (2017).
Senate Bill 159 reads that beginning in July 2018, a student must pass a civics test comprised of 100 questions in order to graduate from a public high school with a regular diploma. Each local board of education will be expected to prepare or approve an exam that must be composed of questions from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services test. Students are required to score 60 percent or higher and may retake the exam as many times as deemed necessary to pass the test.
Critical highlights of the legislation include:
- Local boards of education and charter school governing bodies may decide how the test is administered and implemented.
- Local boards of education will determine how the passing grade will be documented.
- A student who has passed a similar test within the previous five years is not required to take the test.
- Schools must administer this test in accordance with the requirements and accommodations of a student’s individualized education program as defined in KRS 158.281 or a Section 504 Plan as defined in KRS 156.027.
For additional guidance on this assessment, visit KDE’s Civics Test webpage.
House Bill 128 reads that the Kentucky Board of Education will create standards for a social studies course that will include:
- An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible;
- An elective social studies course on the New Testament of the Bible; or
- An elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.
The purpose of these courses is to focus on the historical impact and literary style from texts of the Old Testament and/or New Testament era – including the Hebrew Scriptures – to teach students about biblical content, characters, poetry and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory and public policy.
A course offered under this section will be expected to follow applicable law and all federal and state guidelines in maintaining religious neutrality and accommodating the diverse religious views, traditions and perspectives of students in the school. A course under this section shall not endorse, favor, promote, disfavor or show hostility toward any particular religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective.
A school-based decision making council under administrative regulations of the Kentucky Board of Education may offer this course to students in grade 9 or above. Standards will be developed during the 2017-18 school year.
For more information on the Bible Literacy elective course, visit the KDE’s Bible Literacy webpage.
Standards Revision Process
Senate Bill 1 (2017) calls for the Kentucky Department of Education to implement a process for reviewing all academic standards and aligned assessments beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
The proposed schedule calls for one or two content areas to be reviewed each year and every six years thereafter on a rotating basis. KDE will release applications and desired criteria for those seeking to be involved with the revision process in each content area. Feedback will be solicited on the current and drafted social studies standards starting in 2018.
For an overview of the standards revision process, visit the KDE’s social studies standards webpage.
2017-18 Assessment Information
Current social studies assessments will continue based on CCA 4.1 for social studies in grades 5 and 8.
For the past several years, the high school level end-of-course exams have been provided through a contract with ACT QualityCore. The contract for those exams has ended. A U.S. History end-of-course exam will be developed by Kentucky teachers and field tested once the social studies standards have been revised and approved.
For more information on the standards revision process, view this KDE standards webpage or reference the proposed Kentucky Academic Standards Review/Revision Schedule.
Note: assessment revisions will lag behind the standards revisions by at least one year.
In order to stay informed about changes in social studies education, consider the following:
- Visit KDE’s social studies webpage to see announcements and get information about social studies education in the Commonwealth.
- Bookmark the social studies section of Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education, to view monthly updates and additional announcements for the content area.
- Subscribe to the Listserves, such as KYSOCSTU, for information about and from the social studies community.
It is an exciting time to be a part of the social studies community.