Initial implementation of standards-based social studies: the experience of two fifth grade teachers
Chandler, Patricia Mae
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In 1993, the state of Washington adopted an educational reform plan designed to raise the academic achievement of all students. Essential Academic Learning Requirements have been established as a guide for local school district curricula and as the basis for state-generated performance assessment of student learning.This study examined how a school district began constructing the critical connection between creating higher social studies curriculum standards for students and furthering teacher capacity to implement the intended reform. The scope of the study included: documenting the district's seven-week pilot inservice program that introduced the standards-based social studies curriculum framework to intermediate-level teachers; and observing how two teachers implemented the framework in their classrooms. The multiple-case design with pre-post data collection allowed comparisons within each case and between the two selected participants.Data collection included observations of the inservice sessions and classroom teaching; interviews with teachers, students, inservice facilitators, and administrators; document collection; and use of questionnaires to obtain feedback from the 14 teachers participating in the inservice program.The results of this exploratory study suggest: (1) The use of a rubric can provide clearer expectations for student learning and serve as an objective method of assessing student performance. (2) Elementary teachers may lack the discipline-based subject matter knowledge to understand the content of the new social studies standards. (3) The standards may require new teaching approaches. (4) Adoption of the standards may require additional resources. (5) Use of the standards may promote more intentional higher-level learning experiences. (6) Inservice needs to focus on understanding the standards' content. (7) District personnel responsible for promoting standards-based teaching need to consider the range of teachers' subject matter knowledge. (8) Teachers view sharing with colleagues as a critical need.Implications for policy and practice focus on the need to design constructive, collegial models of professional development to support elementary teachers' learning that is aligned with the demands of the new standards. If the depth of student understanding proposed by the social studies reforms is to be realized, teachers need a deep understanding of subject matter knowledge and appropriate strategies to help students construct understanding.
- Education - Seattle