LCAP Toolkit for Measuring Student Performance in Social Studies, July2016

07/20/2016 2:12 PM | Anonymous


May 2016

1.    Explanation and Summary of Local/Grassroots History-Social Science Campaign

2.    Talking Points and Rationale

3.    Web access to the ESSA Guidelines policy letter from the U.S. Department of Education that defines a "well-rounded education." (July 13, 2016)

4.The Resource: Social Studies Review Vol. 54, Spring 2016, Measuring Student Performance in Social Studies


            With the advent of LCFF (local control funding formula) and LCAPs (local control accountability plans), advocates for more robust history-social science (HSS) education have an unprecedented opportunity.  In this new era of "subsidiarity" as described by Governor Brown and the newly reauthorized ESSA, schools and local districts have greater autonomy from the state and federal government but greater responsibility to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded education for all students. While accountability isn't going away, LEAs (local education agencies) now have a greater say in how they will hold themselves accountable and how they will spend their LCFF funds, including curricular and instructional priorities.

            This toolkit is designed to assist you in supporting high-quality history-social science education and influencing LEA decision makers in your community, including county offices of education, district and site officials, and their elected representatives to implement a well-rounded curriculum that provides all students the skills and understanding that come from robust economics, geography, history and civic education learning opportunities.

Talking Points and Rationale

Curricular Narrowing

            Since the advent of high-stakes testing and API test scores derived solely from those test scores, History-Social Science (HSS) has been squeezed-out due to a proliferation of assessments that focus almost exclusively on English-language arts (ELA), math and, in more recent years, science. The erosion of HSS instructional time has been especially pronounced in grades K-8 where there are no statutory course mandates.  While curricular narrowing hasn't been limited to California, as one of the states that led the high-stakes accountability movement in the early 1990s, this troubling phenomenon has been especially prevalent here. 

            The results speak for themselves, as voter and civic engagement continue to wane, our citizens are less informed about basic economics and personal finance, and students have lost touch with their historical and geographical context.  Many young people lack the skills and dispositions to critically analyze information and civilly engage others when conflicts arise. The health and future of our Republic hangs in the balance.

LCAP Opportunity

            Locally determined LCAPs present an unprecedented opportunity to turn things around. LEAs are now empowered to set their own curricular and programmatic priorities. They are no longer bound to an assessment and accountability regime that fixates on a narrow slice of K-12 curricula but to establish and monitor a comprehensive system that includes all of the core curriculum disciplines. Now is the time for our community schools to truly serve the best interest of our youth by offering them a robust and broad education that better prepares them for sustaining careers, higher education and civic responsibilities.

Purpose of Public Education

            Educational leaders need to ask themselves: What is the fundamental purpose of public education?  Or to put it another way, what justifies spending the hard-earned money of taxpayers to educate other people's children?  At a bare minimum, taxpayers expect that mandatory elementary and secondary education will adequately prepare the next generation of Americans to be self-sufficient, responsible and contributing members of society and history-social science is the vehicle for that purpose.  Anything short of that will inevitably lead to growing distrust and voter backlash against teachers, administrators and locally elected trustees.

            An essential outcome of a well-rounded education must be the infusion of effective citizenship skills and understanding.  In fact, this was the primary purpose behind the early “community schools” in a our nation’s history.  Public and compelled education was primarily dedicated to teaching American students about both individual rights and collective rights as well as the obligations as citizens in order to sustain a fragile democracy from generation to generation.

Benefits of Robust HSS

            To accomplish the fundamental mission of public education, every school must provide their students a rich curricula and inspiring programs, including robust history-social science, that engages students and encourages deep thinking and application of knowledge.  Quality, balanced and in-depth social studies instruction and activities instill the core knowledge, analytical skills and intellectual dispositions to enable students to become life-learners and engaged citizens. Students who have participated in history-social science programs and courses understand that incoming data alone is insufficient on which to base decisions. They have learned to dig deeper from multiple sources, understand multiple perspectives, collaborate with their peers, and effectively communicate their positions with reasoning and logic.  These are in-demand labor market skills, as well as critical elements of life-long learning.  Every student deserves in-depth instruction of state, U.S. and world history; basic economics and personal finance; regional and global geography; and civic understandings of a democratic society.

LCAP Elements Fulfilled by HSS

            Meaningful HSS will assist LEAs accomplish several of the 8 state priorities, which are Student Achievement, Student Engagement, School Climate, Course Access, Parental Involvement, Basic Services, Implementation of Common Core, and Other Student Outcomes.  County/district/site programs should include specific history-social science activities, simulations, projects, and authentic assessment strategies (e.g., debate, mock trials, current events, community involvement, service learning, etc.) in the locally-developed LCAP.  These programs and projects engage students and promote civic understanding in a 21st Century world, and touch upon several of the 8 state priorities mandated by law.

ESSA Federal Guidelines for a "Well-Rounded Education"

        A "Key Policy Letter" signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Education was released on July 13, 2016 to provide guidance in the use of federal funds in state education programs.  The letter clearly lists the essential components of a "well-rounded education."  Geography, civic education/government, economics, and history are specifically listed.  The letter can be accessed at:

The Resource:  Social Studies Review Vol. 54, Spring 2016, Measuring Student Performance in Social Studies

            The Spring 2016 edition of the “Social Studies Review” (SSR) was solely dedicated to helping schools develop HSS-related programs, lesson plans and projects to include in their LCAPs.  Under state law, each district/school will be required to include priority activities and student outcomes in their LCAPs, which must be updated and published annually. Those areas of the LCAP designated for "local determination" include the metrics for "college and career readiness" and ‘"other student achievement," as well as parts of the priority area called "school climate". The district can report the student outcomes in several of the areas at the same time.

            The goal of the Spring 2016 Social Studies Review is to provide a ready-to-use resource that will help districts meet their reporting requirements by using student outcomes from measurable social studies performance activities.  We recommend you request a copy of the SSR from CCSS to use in your advocacy efforts as well as provide ideas, suggestions, and templates for instructional use in the classroom.  In it, you will find detailed explanations and illustrations for how your school/district could do the following:

  • Select a performance activity of yours that can be use in all classes in a grade level, such as in all grade 6, or all grade 10 World History classes. Ideally, the activity will be something that can be done several times during a school year, and will need to be repeated over several years.
  • Determine which skills listed on the College and Career Readiness Standards students will use doing this activity.
  • Match the activity to one of the nine rubrics in the rubric chapter in the SSR. For example, if students will create a project display board, select that rubric. If they will also write a persuasive essay, select the persuasive essay rubric as well. If they do a debate, select that rubric. Other rubrics are available to be used as presented or may easily be modified to fit the activity, grade level, or program. Several rubrics may be used if the activity has multiple dimensions.
  •  If a district chooses to use a specific performance assessment as a multiple school or grade level measurement, score training should be provided in which scorers calibrate for consistency.
  • After each session of the activity, the student results will be scored and scores complied and averaged. The average score will go into the district LCAP report as evidence of growth during a school year, and from year to year as well.

The Spring 2016 Social Studies Review Vol. 54, Measuring Student Performance in Social Studies, is available to CCSS members on the website under the Members tab.  

California Council For the Social Studies
Serving Social Educators in California
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