Social studies is the integrated study of human society and its contributions, influences and impact on the world. There are many content areas which combine to create the overarching concept of social studies. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania has delineated the disciplines and developed academic standards in the social studies areas to be civics and government, economics, geography, history and student interpersonal skills.
Social Studies Academic Standards
Pennsylvania Academic Standards describe what students should know and be able to do at specific points in time. The standards increase in complexity and sophistication as students progress through school. The academic standards serve as a framework from which districts develop their specific curriculum.
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards are part of the Standards Aligned System (SAS). SAS is the Pennsylvania Department of Education's digital curriculum and instruction resource site. SAS is comprised of six distinct elements which provide a common framework for continuous student, teacher, and school and district growth. The elements are Standards, Assessment, Curriculum Framework, Instruction, Materials and Resources, and Safe and Supportive Schools.
Available on SAS are resources for teaching and developing high quality social studies programs. The Pennsylvania Academic Standards, which can be found on SAS, that relate to social studies are:
Civics and Government is the teaching and presentation of the principles and ideals of the American republican representative form of government as portrayed and experienced by the acts and policies of the framers of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights.
Economics is concerned with the behavior of individuals and institutions engaged in the production, exchange, and consumption of goods and services. Students will learn how economic activity impacts the forces of everyday life which is essential as they become adults entering the work force.
Geography is the science of space and place on Earth's surface. Its subject matter is the physical and human phenomena that make up the world's environments and places. Geography helps students understand spatial contexts, recognize places and regions as human concepts, understand physical processes that have shaped the Earth's surface and the patterns resulting from those processes.
History provides a framework that helps instill in each student an ability to develop historical comprehension, to evaluate historical interpretation and to understand and conduct historical research.
Student Interpersonal Skills were crafted to address the skills students need to empower themselves and to successfully navigate the social world of family, school, college, and career connections not only in America but in the global marketplace. The standards address self-awareness and self-management, establishing and maintaining relationships, decision-making and responsible behavior, all which reflect the demands of adult life in society.
Certification and Staffing Policy Guidelines (CSPG)
that pertain to social studies certification and course assignment include: CSPG 35 – Citizenship Education; CSPG 52 – Middle Level Social Studies; CSPG 58 – Social Sciences; and CSPG 59 – Social Studies.
Questions regarding certification requirements should be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of School Leadership and Teacher Quality.
Resources for Educators
: A premier site for resources if teaching economics which is integrated into geography, history, and civics and government lessons or a focused economics class.
- National Geographic is international in its reputation for education in the 5 themes of geography.
: Founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, iCivics is designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in democracy. iCivics presents government in an interactive game format with activities pertinent and relatable to students' lives.
Teachinghistory.org: History resources abound on this website. This site is designed to help K-12 teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. History content, teaching strategies, resources, and research are easily accessible to teachers.