Inland Empire Council for the Social Studies
        Bringing Social Studies to Teachers in the Inland Empire

              A California Council for the Social Studies Affiliate


    Bringing Social Studies to


A California Council for the Social Studies Affiliate                          

What You Can Do to Put Time for Social Studies Back in the School Day

01 Nov 2013 10:27 AM | Dr. Margaret Hill (Administrator)

The new ELA/ELD Framework is up for approval by the Instructional Quality Commission and the State School Board. As it is written, it will continue the cut in social studies instructional time if we don’t act.

The Framework as a whole is an excellent document with an emphasis on moving beyond basic or foundational skills that are featured in the lower grades toward one that stresses the concepts of meaning making, academic language, disciplinary knowledge and effective expression through the integration of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Social studies teachers know that disciplinary knowledge is most effectively taught when there is rich, engaging content around which to make meaning.  Academic language is best understood in the context of this content and not from vocabulary lists. Students demonstrate the disciplinary knowledge they have gained and hone the effectiveness of their expression through presentations and position taking activities within the context of that content.

The materials selection criteria for publishers are in Chapter 12. Only Category One criteria are mandatory for resource adoption. Foundational Skills Concepts are the only Category One criteria. Though the other concepts of meaning making, disciplinary knowledge, academic language, and effective expression are part of the Framework document they are not part of the required criteria for materials adoption.

The suggested minutes of instruction provided to publishers for ELA/ELD will exacerbate the issue.  A range is given for each grade level, varying from 45-150 minutes, with the assumption that more instructional time will be assigned to low performing students. When one includes math and PE in the school day, these minutes effectively eliminate time for social studies, especially for students who have been deemed to require the larger number of minutes.  These tend to be students from impoverished homes, who thought equally as bright as other students, tend to have less chance to develop the academic background knowledge and rich vocabularies essential to school success. 

We need to enrich the curriculum with more social studies, science and the arts, not eliminate the time for these from students most in need of that support. Provide equal time for English language arts and disciplinary content. Provide needed support in language development within the disciplinary content. Numerous studies conducted in social studies and sciences have shown that when content is well taught, language skills grow rapidly.  Let’s not repeat the problems of the last decades where students have spent endless hours completing meaningless language drills and worksheets that resulted in greater increases in drop out rates than academic performance.

The Instructional Quality Commission and the California School Board must approve the draft of the Framework in November. Now is a good time to contact them if you have concerns. The names and contact information for the IQC member is at  and for the SBE is at

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