The latest draft of Nebraska's revised social studies standards details more of what the state expects of its school districts, teachers and students.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The revision, released Monday, was more specific than the one released in May and reflected changes based on public input and evaluations from outside experts, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/Pu0WWf).
"I feel like we've reached a good balance between giving guidance and not specifying curriculum," said Donlynn Rice, Nebraska Education Department administrator of curriculum, instruction and innovation.
The latest version contains a host of historical and cultural figures, such as Thomas Jefferson and Willa Cather, and events that range from the Revolutionary War to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
State officials want the standards to be focused on broad concepts, leaving most of the details to local districts to stay in step with Nebraska's emphasis on local control. But the early draft's lack of details drew some criticism.
Jeremy Stern, a history consultant who had reviewed Nebraska's current standards for the Fordham Institute, said some of the standards were too vague, and he recommended placing more attention to chronological sequence.
"Even taking Nebraska's belief in local control and broad approach to standards as a given, content overviews should be clear and consistent in detail," Stern said.
There are broad standards in the latest draft, as well as grade-specific standards and examples of what should be taught. The broad history standards include chronological thinking, multiple perspectives, historical analysis and interpretation and research skills.
The standards address four content areas - history, economics, geography and civics - and are separated into various grade levels.
Stern praised the standards' focus on financial literacy and for avoiding political pressure to "trumpet the supremacy of free markets."
McRel, a regional research organization that has reviewed Nebraska's other standards, made some recommendations and generally gave high marks to the revised standards, especially the breadth of the history standards.
The revised standards eventually will go to the Nebraska State Board of Education for adoption.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com
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