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Social Studies

What a time to be a social studies teacher!

Those of us in the profession have always understood the importance of social studies in protecting and perpetuating our democracy. We have understood the value in knowing our complex history and the essential nature of civil discourse in resolving our conflicts and in strengthening our republic. We have understood the necessity of thoughtfully analyzing past challenges to develop reasoned responses for current ones. And, we have sought to share those pivotal understandings with our students every day.  The call to teach high quality social studies to all our students is now greater than ever. It is our job here at DESE to support you as you rise to that challenge. 

Below you will find several opportunities for you and your students as you work toward that goal:  

Have Gavel, Will Travel: These free, interactive presentations are available for Missouri judges to give to student or civic groups. The presentations are free, interactive and can be adapted to give for any audience. Traveling judges are available to visit elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities; libraries, community and professional organizations; service clubs; senior citizen centers and residential facilities; neighborhood groups; and faith communities. Given COVID-19 concerns, judges also are available to make presentations virtually, using a platform of the audience’s choosing.

Teachers and others can find more information about presentation topics from the committee’s Discover Missouri Courts website. To schedule a judicial speaker and presentation, select a presentation from https://www.courts.mo.gov/CivicEducation/presentations/

Missouri Youth Institute: The Missouri Youth Institute is looking for high school students who care passionately about the world, who believe everyone should have access to nutritious food, lean water and education and who are problem solvers who want to be part of the solution. At the institute, high school students engage with local leaders and experts on critical global challenges, participate in hands-on activities, and explore exciting ways to make a difference in Missouri and around the world.

The Missouri Youth Institute is hosted by the University of Missouri with the generous support of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Missouri 4-H, and the Missouri FFA. For more information, please contact Dr. Kristin Bilyeu at:  kristin.bilyeu@usda.gov or 573-884-2234 

Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University is accepting applications to participate in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute (BFTF) to be held June 26 –July 31, 2021, on the campus of Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. 

Ten  U.S. Fellows will join 45 BFTF Fellows from Europe to take classes in International Diplomacy, Media and Journalism, Global Problems, Democracy and Civic Education. Fellows will meet with US diplomats and politicians, prominent scholars and journalists and participate in debates, practical workshops, and seminars. The Institute, a US State Department-sponsored program, is conducted in partnership with the Department of Political Science, the Brian Lamb School of Communication, the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, and the Center for Civic Education (Calabasas, CA).  

Successful US applicants will receive a scholarship that will cover all expenses related to the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Summer Institute Fellowship.   All 16-18 years old U.S. citizens may apply. To read more about the Institute and to apply, please go to the BFTF website:  https://www.education.purdue.edu/ben-franklin-institute

Missouri Citizenship Award: Consider recognizing one of your school’s outstanding young leaders for this state-level award. High school students who have demonstrated knowledge of the principles of government and citizenship through academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities and service to the community are eligible for nomination, one per high school.   Click on the Missouri Citizenship Award Covid Update bullet in the Quick Links box on this page for additional details and for the application. Nominations due by February 26, 2021.

Priority and Supporting Standards Development: Finally, I want to invite you to participate in the development of priority and supporting standards for Missouri Social Studies. These instructional resources will help guide and facilitate the important work you do with our Missouri students every day. Meetings are set for January 27, February 24 and March 24, 2021. Sign-up through the DESE Curriculum calendar at https://dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/curriculum

As we work through these times together, the mindset of ‘challenge as opportunity’ remains paramount in our work and in our lives. Please feel free to reach out with thoughts, questions or ideas in the coming days. 

Dixie Johnson Grupe​
Director, Social Studies
Office of College and Career Readiness
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

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 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. fburke@slu.edu

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




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

Social Studies Colloquia


Colloquia Resources

Resources for Social Studies Colloquia

These historical resources are primary source documents and are thusly reflective of the time and place in which they were written. Take caution in the use of these texts. The documents may contain objectionable content and are not appropriate for all students.

  1. Songs from the Civil War - Confluence Spring/Summer 2011
  2. Worker Number 74530 - Kate L. Gregg - Confluence Fall 2009
  3. When Sleepy Hollow came to St. Louis - Irving - Confluence Spring/Summer 2015
  4. A Mean Race Report - CV May 1909
  5. Memoir of Faithful Slaves - CV August 1911 
  6. Monument to Faithful Slaves - CV March 1905
  7. Monument to Family Slaves - CV October 1914
  8. Monument to Slaves - CV September 1904
  9. Problem of the - CV January 1907
  10. Tribute to Our Faithful Slaves - CV July 1905
  11. Major Ewing's New Book Ad 1906
  12. Confederate History in Memorials - CV 
  13. Stowe Opposition - CV 1902
  14. Slave Monument Question - CV November 1904
  15. The Lost Cause Ideology and Civil War Memory at the Semicentennial: A Look at the Confederate Monument in St. Louis - Patrick Burkhardt - Confluence Spring/Summer 2011
  16. A Confederate Monument for St. Louis - CV
  17. St. Louis to Have Confederate Monument - CV January 1906


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



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- www.econlowdown.org
    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

​​        https://www.kansascityfed.org/education

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


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)