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Social Studies

Welcome to summer,

Both the calendar and the thermometer make it official; summer has arrived in Missouri.  Another sign of summer is a wealth of wonderful teaching and learning opportunities for Missouri educators interested in Social Studies.

  1.  In early June, more than 100 social studies educators spent a day in Jefferson City working together exploring new curriculum and assessment resources, developing ideas for implementing the Missouri Learning Standards Social Studies Expectations, and creating strategies to integrate other content areas into powerful social studies lessons.  See the details and materials under the Professional Development Series Resources box at the bottom of this page.
  2. In February 2017, 50 Missouri Social Studies teachers worked together to develop item specifications for each MLS Social Studies Expectation. Every teacher in Missouri now has access to an explanation of each individual standard, guidance regarding specific content to consider as he/ she writes curriculum and information regarding quality assessment of that standard. If you are writing curriculum or developing assessments this summer, check out this valuable resource now available under the Professional Development Series Resources box at the bottom of this page.
  3. As you make plans for next school year, please consider inviting a judge into your classroom or school. The Civic Education Speakers Bureau is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Missouri. Its goal is to use judges to connect Missouri students with their courts. Speakers are local judges who provide presentations on topics of interest to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.  Topics such as “The Case of the Missing Recess” and “Good Riddance, Mean King George” are targeted for elementary students, while presentations like Tinker V. Des Moines or Hazelwood V. Kuhlmeier are focused on high school students. For a complete listing of offerings or to contact the organization please email [email protected].  There is no cost for this great way to help Missouri students learn about our courts and our civic life.
    • Missouri Council for History Education (MOCHE) announces its fall 2017 conference: Best Practices in History Education to be held at the Gateway Conference Center-St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank on September 19 and 20. Registration and presentation submissions information is available at http://www.mohistoryeducation.org/news//2017-moche-conference-call-for-proposals
    • Missouri Council for the Social Studies (MCSS) announces its spring 2018 conference, Balancing Security and Liberty: Past Present and Future, to be held February 23 and 24, 2018 at the National World War I Museum, in Kansas City, MissouriRegistration and presentation submissions information is available at: http://www.mosocialstudies.com/conference
  6. Because we have so much information to share, we are working to re-organize this page.  To see our latest efforts, scroll to the bottom of this page and check out the tabs.


Dixie Grupe
Director, Social Studies
Office of College and Career Readiness
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
[email protected] 

The Missouri Civics Education Initiative, passed by the Missouri legislature and signed by Governor Nixon in June 2016, requires any student entering 9th grade after July 1, 2017 to pass an examination on the provisions and principles of American civics.

The law states that the examination shall consist of 100 questions similar to the one hundred questions used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and may be included in any other examination that is administered on the provisions and principles of the United States and the State of Missouri, and in American history and American institutions.   The full text of the law can be found at http://www.senate.mo.gov/16info/pdf-bill/tat/SB638.pdf

So what does that mean for Missouri Social Studies?

  • We will continue with the current Government EOC exam and the voluntary American History EOC exam.
  • Local districts will assure compliance.
  • School districts may use an online test to comply.  See http://joefossinstitute.org/citizenship-survey/ for ideas.
  • Districts may choose to create a crosswalk of the USCIS questions and their existing American Government, Missouri Government and American History assessment, and then to amend those assessments to comply with the USCIS content. Districts are encouraged to maintain the crosswalk and adjustments as verification of content assessed.  The USCIS site testing materials are available at https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/study-test

If you have additional questions about this law and social studies testing, please contact [email protected]

Social Studies Missouri Learning Standards

Assessed Standards

The End-of-Course assessments will continue to be based on these standards through the 2018-2019 school year.

Social Studies - Grades K-8: PDF | Word | Excel
Social Studies - High School: PDF | Word | Excel

Revised Standards

The Revised standards, approved on April 19, 2016 are for implementation beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year. They will be assessed beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

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 


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 Opportunities​

Judicial Learning Center

Teaching about the Judicial Branch: Sponsored by the Judicial Learning Center.  This free summer PD will focus on Alexander Hamilton’s lasting impact on our judiciary and on our country. Designed for high School and middle school government and American History teachers, participants will see the court in action and take home a wealth of ideas, resources and lessons.  There is a one-day session in Cape Girardeau on July 17 and a two day session in St. Louis on July 19 and 20. For more information go to: http://judiciallearningcenter.org/summer-teacher-institute/

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. [email protected]

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 project:ushmm.org/history-unfolded

Veterans National Education Program

This on-line resource includes free resources tied to modern history, culture, geography and current events. For more information http://v-nep.org/global-awareness-map/ 

Professional Development Series Resources



Teacher Awards

James Madison Fellowship

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. As funding permits, the Foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state per year.   Deadline is March 1, 2017.  For more information  go to  http://www.jamesmadison.gov/

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The National History Teacher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding K–12 American history teachers across the country. The national winner receives a $10,000 prize presented at an award ceremony in their honor in New York City. State winners receive a $1,000 prize, an archive of classroom resources, and recognition at a ceremony within their state. Deadline for application is March 31, 2017.   For more information go to https://www.gilderlehrman.org/programs-exhibitions/national-history-teacher-year


Student Awards


Social Studies Colloquia 2016-2017

This four-part series will bring together Missouri educators, K-12, who have an interest in Social Studies pedagogy and content. In addition to providing updates on curriculum and assessment developments, sessions will focus on the theme, Thinking Like a Social Scientist, an idea central to the new Social Studies K-12 Expectations.

Each colloquium will focus on a single skill related directly to improving students’ learning.  it will identify a skill highlighted in the Expectations, demonstrate anchor experiences to introduce that social science thinking skill to students, suggest ways to teach that skill in K-12 classrooms throughout a variety of content areas and grade levels, and elicit ideas for implementation from teachers and other social studies practitioners.


September 1, 2016

Causation: How do social scientists identify and then analyze relationships among historical causes and effects?  How do social scientists distinguish between causation and correlation? How do social scientists explain contingency, the idea that historical effects result from a complex variety of factors which can come together in unpredictable ways and often produce unanticipated consequences? How can we use grade-level or course-specific curriculum to teach causation to our students?

November 3, 2016

Comparison: How do social scientists use multiple perspectives on a given historical event to draw accurate conclusions?  How do social scientists compare multiple historical developments within a society and between societies? How do social scientists compare perspectives from different time periods and in different geographical contexts? How can we use grade-level or course specific-curriculum to teach comparison to our students?

March 2, 2017

Periodization:  How and why do social scientists divide history into discrete and definable periods?  How and why do they choose specific turning points? How are those decisions influenced by one narrative or by one region or by one influential group?  How can we use grade-level or course-specific curriculum to teach periodization to our students?

May 4, 2017

Contextualization How does understanding context help a social scientist understand specific historical events? How do regional, national, or global processes affect our understanding of specific historical events? How do social scientists connect historical processes and events to specific circumstances of time and place? How do we use grade-level or course-specific curriculum to teach contextualization to our students?

Our final Social Studies Colloquium will be May 4, 2017. In this final session, we will explore how to teach the historical thinking skill: Contextualization. Even if you have not been a part of this series, we welcome you to this day of thinking and learning. Our visiting scholar will share his research on historic and contemporary human trafficking, we will explore how teachers can develop inquiry skills in their classrooms and we will make some plans for next year’s Social Studies Colloquia.

All sessions will be held in Jefferson City, at the Harry S Truman Building, Room 400, from 9:00 a.m. -- 3:00 pm, with lunch provided. 

Note: You may register for a single session or for all four sessions.  Space is limited. Registration will remain open until sessions are filled. Please respond to Dixie Grupe , Social Studies Director at [email protected] with your name, school district, position/grade level, and the session (s) if you are interested.

Colloquia Resources

Economics Contests

National Economics Challenge


Economics Professional Development

Teacher Professional Development from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Click here for the registration page.  For more information see the flier below.

KC Federal Reserve PD Flier

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



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