In late 2011, after a year-long process involving careful analysis of national documents, reports and expert reviews, the Minnesota Social Studies Standards (MNSS) committee began to model their social studies curriculum after some of the most exemplary standards from other states. Public commentary was taken into account during this process. What resulted from their work is a new, broadened set of social studies standards with a shift in focus from American citizenship and history to a more global perspective, including skills that students will need in order to be prepared for college and their future careers. The standards feature grade-specific benchmarks from kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as a single band of benchmarks in grades 9-12.
Revision is always a work in progress, and as such, there have been some complaints that the social studies standards committee omitted key parts of American history. These include sections detailing late twentieth- and early twenty-first century politics that had been included in the 2004 standards. However, Minnesota’s review board feels that students need to be more socially prepared for a changing society that includes more and more international relations—in the business sector or elsewhere. The committee’s idea is to create a well-rounded student, an ideal shift that is also reflected in the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS), with its inclusion of history/social studies, science, and technical subjects standards. It is likely that all state standards will continue to expand in a similar fashion, creating students whose education takes on a more worldly perspective.
When comparing the new standards to the 2004 version, it appears that the new curriculum now covers a wider range of historical and social topics, including geotechnology and, in economics, personal finance. Overall, the 2012 standards place a heavy emphasis on global citizenship, college- and career-readiness, and concepts and skills that prepare students for life in an increasingly globally connected world. Throughout the new standards documentation, a colorful logo is placed on key pages, highlighting the chief concerns of the program: inquiry, critical thinking and problem solving. At the center of these ideals is the concept of communication as a means of preparing a young person for college or a future career. The hope is that each student will develop a complex idea of what citizenship is—on a local, national and global scale.