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Social Studies

Parent Guide Resources: New Expectations and Standards

Alabama Course of Study:  SOCIAL STUDIES

Alabama students in the twenty-first century find themselves involved in and affected by local, national, and international events. State constitutional and economic issues directly affect both education and the standard of living for Alabama students. National security concerns force Alabama students to look at world events from a personal perspective. World events require students to be knowledgeable about the economic, geographic, historical, and political perspectives of the world and its people. Since students are more directly involved in these issues and need information and strategies to make informed decisions, the theme of the 2004 Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies is responsible citizenship.

Responsible citizenship can be attained only by informed and active citizens. Mastering the standards included in this document provides all students in Grades K-12 with essential historical knowledge of causes and effects of actions in the distant and recent history of the United States and the world, knowledge of geography, and understanding of political science and economics. Students actively apply this knowledge through projects, classroom involvement, and service learning. They also develop and sharpen thinking skills for use in today's classrooms and in the future.

Content standards in this document present knowledge and skills with increasing rigor across grade levels. Economic concepts, for example, begin in kindergarten as students identify personal wants and needs, continue in the middle grades as they learn principles of money management and rights of consumers, and extend into high school as they interpret the role of supply and demand in a market economy. Geographic knowledge increases across the grades as well. In Grade 3, students locate major resource deposits throughout the world; in Grade 7, students engage in a semester study of geography; and in Grade 9, students explain the relationship between physical geography and cultural development in India, Japan, and China in the early Global Age. Historical concepts and significant facts are addressed in kindergarten as students learn vocabulary to describe periods of time, in middle school as they explain the effects of the 1920s and the Great Depression on different groups, and in high school as they evaluate major domestic events and issues of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. An understanding of political science also begins in the primary grades when students identify symbols of patriotism, is extended in Grade 5 as they explain major political events during the War of 1812, and reaches a more demanding level in Grade 12 when students contrast the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a republic based on the rule of law, freedom of opportunity, individual liberty, and representative democracy.

In preparing the Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies (Bulletin 2004, No. 18), consideration was given to key concepts from a variety of sources, including five national standards documents. A major focus is the use of the four strands of economics, geography, history, and political science to align course content at each grade level. Each of the strands is addressed in each grade with increasing rigor and with attention to developmental appropriateness and vertical alignment in each strand across the grades. In kindergarten and the primary grades, specific significant content in each strand is clearly delineated and sequenced, serving as an important foundation for new content and increasing rigor at each successive grade. While many grades or courses have a history base, the other three strands are appropriately addressed. All strands are included in every grade, but each strand is emphasized at one or more designated grade levels. An intensive study of basic geography is included in Grade 3 and Grade 7, and important geographic skills and concepts are addressed in other grades as well. Civics or political science is addressed in each grade. In Grade 7 one-half year is devoted primarily to civics standards; and a semester course, United States Government, is required in Grade 12. Likewise, historical concepts and skills are included in each grade, but students have a concentrated study of the history of the United States in Grades 5 and 6 as well as in Grades 10 and 11 and of world history in Grades 8 and 9. The economics strand also contains important knowledge and skills in each grade, and a semester course with major emphasis on economics is included and required in Grade 12.

Content standards for four social studies elective courses-Contemporary Issues, Psychology, Sociology, and World Geography-are included in the appendix section of this course of study to provide core content for electives for those school systems wishing to provide students with opportunities for meaningful academic advancement beyond the required courses. These electives also address the overall goal of social studies education by promoting the development of thoughtful, informed, and responsible citizens.

Effective implementation of the Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies encourages the development of literate and analytical students who have the ability to examine events and problems from diverse perspectives. Students who can read, write, interpret, and apply information related to economics, geography, history, or politics are able to make logical decisions that empower them to be responsible citizens who are active and valuable participants in the community.

  • Alabama History
    In 4th Grade Students learn about Alabama History as part of the Social Studies Course of Study. To access the Alabama History curriculum online, go to