Social Studies

Welcome spring!

We relish spring as a time of awakening, a much-anticipated rebirth after a long, hard winter. For many, this spring may feel a bit more like a slow, groggy return to consciousness after a difficult 12-month-long troubled dream. Whatever the tone of your response, the safe return of students and teachers to classroom is anticipated by all.

More than any other in my 36 years as a Missouri educator, I am looking forward to this spring as a new beginning for our students and their teachers. The past year has been driven by changes and challenges unlike any others in both scale and scope. Yet, despite all those obstructions and their consequences, Missouri teachers built communities of learners amidst fragmented classrooms, found innovative ways to provide a meaningful education for all their students and served as inspirational leaders to their peers, their schools and their communities. Thank you for your extraordinary efforts to provide a quality education for every young Missourian over these past 12 months.

We also want to say thank you for reaching out to us here at DESE with ideas for resources, questions about instruction and assessment, and insights as to how we might serve you better. Our mission is to support you in the work you do with students. We fulfill that mission most effectively if we know your thoughts and needs.

Below you will find information in response to your most frequent Social Studies inquiries over the past month:

Where can I find current resources for teaching civics, government and civil liberties?

Where can I find current resources for teaching civics, government and civil liberties?

  • The Supreme Court of Missouri’s civic education committee has a wealth of high-quality resources related to the purpose and functions of the judicial branch in our democracy. Their resources are aligned with the MLS for Social Studies K-12 and are easy to access. More information can be found here.
  • Check out the MO LEAP Blocks for Social Studies. Titles include: The First Amendment, Rule of Law, The First Political Parties, The Constitutional Convention and many more. Be sure to check out grade levels other than your own. These tools are designed to be adapted by the hands of creative educators.
    Missouri educators have created more than 60 sets of these resources, tied to Missouri learning standards which include diverse primary sources, a range of potential assessment items and scoring guides, expansive background teacher notes and suggestions and many parallel ELA ideas as well. The materials found in each set can be the springboard for great teaching and learning at many grade levels.
    You can find these multi-usage resources at
  • Another outstanding collection of resources for teaching civics, government and civil liberties is available through the Missouri Bar. These resources aligned with are Missouri Learning Standards, focused on enduring principles of American democracy like freedom of speech, constitutional separation of powers, the Fourth Amendment, growth and limitations of presidential powers and many, many others.
    You can find these excellent, teacher-friendly resources at
  • Students in the United States District Court, Eastern District Court of Missouri are invited to participate in a student art competition:
    Juries: Through the Eyes of Students
    The Judicial Learning Center is excited to provide a venue for students within the District to express their view of juries through artistic expression. Entry in the competition is free and open to all students in grades 1-12 within the Eastern District of Missouri. Click HERE to see the geographic boundaries of the District.
    All details, required forms, and teacher guide can be found at
What is happening with Missouri social studies testing this spring?

What is happening with Missouri social studies testing this spring?

It is on.

  • The waivers for last year’s graduating seniors expired in July 2020. The graduation testing requirements for the US Constitution, Missouri Constitution and Civics tests are all in place for SY2020-2021.
  • Missouri students currently enrolled in Government will take the EOC this year. Like all EOCs in SY 2020-2021, student scores will not be used for school accreditation measures.
  • There will be no student scores available for the Government EOC this year until early fall. Scoring designations such as below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced are set when all scores are in and Missouri educators meet to identify those thresholds. The State Board of Education will then review and must approve that information before any scores are available.
  • Successful achievement on the locally-created and administered US Constitution, Missouri Constitution and Civics tests is required for graduation. Because these assessments are not tied to a particular course, these graduation requirements may be met at any time during a student’s high school years.
  • You can reference this document for more detailed information on social studies testing and graduation requirements.

As always, please email or call with questions or ideas. My role is to support the important work you do.  Enjoy this beautiful spring,
Dixie Johnson Grupe
Director, Social Studies
Office of College and Career Readiness
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Missouri Learning Standards

Social Studies Missouri Learning Standards

Current Standards

The standards, approved on April 19, 2016 are for implementation beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year. They will be assessed in Government and HS American History (optional) EOC assessments in a census field test in 2018-2019 and then in operational form beginning in 2019-2020.

Social Studies - K-5: K-5 PDF | K-5 Word
Social Studies - 6-12: 6-12 PDF | 6-12 Word
Social Studies - K-12: K-12 Excel (Updated 02.15.19) 


*Updated 5.30.18
K-5 | MS American History | MS World Geography | MS World History | HS American Government. | HS American History | HS World History 

Teacher View

These are the new Missouri Learning Standards K-12 Expectations for Social Studies, but the alternative layout includes details and resources classroom teachers may find helpful. 

Additional Resources

Professional Development

Professional Development Opportunities

Missouri Council for History Education

Build your own Professional Development: Sponsored by Missouri Council for History Education. The Missouri Humanities Council has partnered with MOCHE to sponsor a Visiting Scholars Program.  They will line up a team of experts (subject and curriculum development) to meet with your faculty and either talk about improving history education overall and/or how to improve teaching about specific topic areas your faculty suggests. They will bring in university researchers, authors, and seasoned teachers to help your faculty start the year with ideas to energize their classrooms; all at no cost to your district. Interested school districts’ in-service coordinator should contact Flannery Burke, Visiting Scholars Coordinator to set a date.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum: History Unfolded

US Holocaust Memorial Museum: History Unfolded is a new project at the museum asking “citizen historians” to help research the way the Holocaust was reported in local US newspapers from 1933 to 1945. For more information on this

Veterans National Education Program

This on-line resource includes free resources tied to modern history, culture, geography and current events. For more information 

Professional Development Series Resources





All Social Studies awards are currently on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. Check back for more information.


To Be Updated


Economics Contests

National Economics Challenge


Economics Professional Development

Teacher Professional Development from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City


Teacher Resources and Professional Development from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Personal Finance

Personal Finance

In 2016 the State Board of Education authorized the organization of a workgroup to evaluate, and possibly make recommendations to modify or revise Personal Finance learning standards.  These standards have not changed since 2006 when the State Board of Education revised graduation requirements for Missouri’s students to include one-half credit of Personal Finance.

The workgroup, comprised of Missouri educators and community leaders from across the state, began work in December 2016. After more than nine months of work, three public hearings, feedback from educators, higher education representatives and business community members and revisions based on that input, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presented the standards for approval.

On September 19, 2017, the State Board of Education approved the new standards.  Districts should begin preparing local curriculum based on the new standards for implementation in the 2018-2019 school year. Development of a new online assessment tool aligned to the new standards will begin immediately for implementation in the 2019-2020 school year.

Resources for Personal Finance Curriculum Development    

  1. Personal Finance Course Level Expectations: approved September 2017
  2. Personal Finance Crosswalk: 2016 Standards/2017 Standards/Coding
  3. Personal Finance Course Level Expectation Excel 2017
  4. Personal Finance Competencies: 2006
  5. Resources through the St. Louis Federal Reserve
    1. Go to-
    2. Log in as a teacher
    3. Go to the resource gallery
    4. Select resource types and click on Syllabus
    5. Select Sample Personal Finance Syllabus with 2017 Missouri Standards to preview
    6. Create a classroom
    7. Add the syllabus to the classroom and assign desired items.
  6. Resources through the Kansas City Federal Reserve

Personal Finance Assessment:

  • As part of their curriculum, students in Missouri must earn a 1/2 credit in the area of Personal Finance.
  • Students who are receiving personal finance credit from embedded coursework: The online assessment is REQUIRED. The pass rate is the district’s decision.
  • Students attempting to “test out” and receive personal finance credit toward graduation: The online assessment is REQUIRED. Students must attain a score of 90% or higher to receive personal finance credit.
  • Students who are enrolled in a stand-alone personal finance course: The online assessment is OPTIONAL. Participation, however, permits the district to evaluate student achievement with an assessment fully aligned to state standards.
  • A student may take the Personal Finance Assessment ONE time per testing window.
  • The Personal Finance Assessment is provided at no cost to districts

Other Resources

Other Resources


Item Specifications

Item Specifications

In 2014 Missouri legislators passed House Bill 1490, mandating the development of the Missouri Learning Expectations. In April of 2016, these Missouri Learning Expectations were adopted by the State Board of Education. Groups of Missouri educators from across the state collaborated to create the documents necessary to support the implementation of these expectations.

One of the documents developed is the item specification document, which includes all Missouri grade level/course expectations arranged by domains/strands. It defines what could be measured on a variety of assessments. The document serves as the foundation of the assessment development process.

Although teachers may use this document to provide clarity to the expectations, these specifications are intended for summative, benchmark, and large‐scale assessment purposes.

Components of the item specifications include:

  • Expectation Unwrapped breaks down a list of clearly delineated content and skills the students are expected to know and be able to do upon mastery of the Expectation.
  • Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Ceiling indicates the highest level of cognitive complexity that would typically be assessed on a large scale assessment. The DOK ceiling is not intended to limit the complexity one might reach in classroom instruction.
  • Item Format indicates the types of items used in large scale assessment. For each expectation, the item format specifies the type best suited for that particular expectation.
  • Content Limits/Assessment Boundaries are parameters that item writers should consider when developing a large scale assessment. For example, some expectations should not be assessed on a large scale assessment but are better suited for local assessment.
  • Sample stems are examples that address the specific elements of each expectation and address varying DOK levels. The sample stems provided in this document are in no way intended to limit the depth and breadth of possible item stems. The expectation should be assessed in a variety of ways.
  • Text Types suggests a broad list of text types for both literary and informational expectations. This list is not intended to be all inclusive: other text types may be used in the classroom setting. The expectations were written in grade level bands; for this reason, the progression of the expectations relies upon increasing levels of quantitative and qualitative text complexities. (English Language Arts Only)
  • Calculator Designation indicates whether a calculator will be available for test questions written to a particular expectations on the large-scale assessment. (Mathematics Only)
  • Stimulus Materials defines types of stimulus materials that can be used in the item stems. (Science and Social Studies Only)
  • Possible Evidence indicates observable methods in which a student can show understanding of the expectations. (Science Only)

Social Studies Item Specifications (Updated 5.30.18)