WV College & Career Readiness Standards for Social Studies

Instructor: Jessica Keys
West Virginia Schools are taking social studies into a new direction for future generations. To read more about what this means for students and for an overview of the key concepts covered by grade area, check out this article.

West Virginia Students Prepare for College

In 2016, the state of West Virginia replaced its Next Generation framework with a more streamlined set of standards for its K-12 students. The new West Virginia College and Career Readiness Standards, or WVCCRS, apply to mathematics, science, English language arts (ELA) and social studies. As the name suggests, this system is designed to prepare students for the challenges of life after school, such as pursuing higher education and establishing a career. As such, this new curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving, and engages students in both independent and collaborative work.

Social Studies in West Virginia

The new WVCCRS framework establishes four major content areas in all non-specific social studies classes:

Civics: Covering political systems and processes, the origins of laws and democratic values, global awareness, the meaning of community, and one's responsibilities and rights as a United States citizen.

Economics: Covering the allocation and use of resources, the functions of markets, supply and demand, competition, fiscal responsibility, the role of the consumer and how economic principles operate on both the local and global scales.

Geography: Covering both physical and cultural geography, including how people in different areas of the world interact locally and globally. Students will ask questions and research topics according to the five themes of geography (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and regions). Also emphasized is the role of the United States in a global community.

History: Covering the study of past events, with regards to context, cause and repercussions. Students learn how history can provide an understanding of the present, through research, analysis, interpretation and criticism of historical data.

Content standards in these four areas are covered in a developmentally-appropriate manner, divided into four grade bands.

Early Elementary School Standards - Overview (K-2)

Students in the early grades are introduced to simple concepts that are easy to observe and identify in daily life. They will learn about the roles people play in communities, and how cooperation, fairness and respect help make those communities work. They learn about how communities produce goods that can be traded, and how people make and save money. Students will read maps and construct their own, and gain a basic understanding of how the environment of a region shapes the culture of its citizens. Basic chronology is also covered at this level, as young students learn about the study of history and ask their own questions about important figures and events.

Do your students need a helping hand? Check out Study.com's own Social Studies for Kids for a fun review of the basics.

Elementary School Standards - Overview (3-5)

Now further along into elementary school, students have become more adept at generating questions and drawing informed conclusions. They will learn about the roles of our government branches, officials, laws and institutions, including the United States Constitution. Students will also begin a more focused study of economics, covering the interplay between resources, productivity and profit, as well as trade and economic interdependence.

In addition to its impact on economic trade, students will also learn how geography--location, natural and cultural characteristics--affects the movement of people and ideas. Students will analyze maps (including photographs and satellite imagery) and create their own visual representations of locations (familiar and unknown). For historical topics, students in these grades learn how to select appropriate resources, compare and summarize chronological events, understand different historical perspectives and develop their own claims about what happened in the past.

For a little extra help, Study.com has Social Studies courses geared especially for Third Grade, Fourth Grade and Fifth Grade students.

Middle School Standards - Overview (6-8)

Throughout the middle grades, students will gain a comprehensive knowledge base of the United States government, building on the general topics covered in elementary school. They will learn about political parties, organizations and interest groups, patriotism and the many roles of the citizen, the three branches of government and our system of checks and balances. The standards cover the purposes of laws and treaties, and pays special attention to certain historical laws in context. Economic topics are also expanded, as students learn more about concepts like financial markets, supply and demand, labor unions, credit, entrepreneurship, inflation and trade barriers. Students are encouraged to discuss economic issues and weigh the costs of potential solutions.

In geography, students use different types of mapping techniques to represent environmental and cultural relationships. These relationships are explored further as students examine how developments in transportation and technology can change the culture, environment and economy of a region. This complements the historical component of this grade band, which sees students connecting past events and developments on a broader, comparative scale. They will learn how to question historical significance, and see how perspective may impact the information presented in a historical source. As students learn how to conduct deeper, critical research, they will also produce their own informative texts/projects and use sources appropriately.

Middle schoolers can find social studies content just for them on Study.com, with our courses in middle school Geography, U.S. History and World History!

High School Standards - Overview (9-12)

High school students typically undergo a course of specific classes, in preparation for college study or the workforce, and including at least one civics course. The recommended course sequence may vary from county to county, but will generally cover the following topics:

  • World Studies: This class charts the development of various cultural, economic and political structures of the world's many regions, from the beginning of time to present day.
  • United States Studies: Typically experienced in tenth grade, this class covers the formation and transformation of the United States over the centuries. It also posits the U.S. Constitution as a living document, and its role is examined both historically and in the context of a rapidly evolving society.
  • Contemporary Studies: This class takes a look at the United States, its policies, conflicts and other interactions with the rest of the world, from 1914 to now. Students will examine this role with a critical eye, using a variety of resources, data, historical content and methodologies. Also covered are globalization, foreign policy and the impact of the individual citizen on world affairs.
  • Civics: This is a capstone class (with U.S. Studies as a prerequisite) that places special emphasis on the student as an informed United States citizen. Students will learn about the purpose and principles of government, the origins of our national documents, examine the freedoms afforded to citizens by the Bill of Rights and participate in community service projects. They will also learn how to research and use census data, as well as other demographic data to evaluate geopolitical issues (such as standards of living, cultural boundaries, environmental protection and minority rights). As students prepare to leave high school, they will also learn how to budget and make sound financial decisions.

At the high school level, students may also choose to take specialized classes in economics, sociology and psychology.

Don't forget to check out Study.com's library of social studies courses for high schoolers, including online review courses in American Government, World History, U.S. History, The Constitution, Critical Thinking and more; our other offerings include subject-based homework help resources and prep courses for the AP exams!

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