State Superintendent Unveils Latest Draft History Standards

Virginia Department of Education | January 6, 2023

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow on Thursday delivered a draft revision of the commonwealth’s K-12 history standards to the state Board of Education.

The proposed History and Social Science Standards of Learning incorporate content from earlier drafts and new content to tell a more complete story about how the past has shaped the commonwealth, the nation and the world.

“These draft standards will build student understanding of the attributes, ideals and actions that have made America the world’s exemplar of freedom and opportunity,” Balow said. “At the same time, the standards are unflinching in their presentation of those times when Virginia and the nation failed to live up to our founding ideals.”

The standards recommend a sequence of grade-level content and courses that begins in kindergarten with a focus on essential skills, state and national symbols, and communities, and culminates in high school with World History, Virginia and United States History, and Virginia and United States Government.

“The standards build a strong foundation of content knowledge necessary for deep inquiry by learners at all grade levels,” Balow said. “For students to think critically about a period of history, they have to know something about it.”

The draft incorporates input from more than 200 reviewers over the course of two years and includes new content on events and historical figures previously overlooked in the commonwealth’s history standards.

Woven throughout the draft is a civics strand that builds students’ knowledge of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, the commonwealth and nation’s founding documents, and the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state and national government.

“These draft standards are stronger because they reflect the contributions of subject-matter experts, thoughtful citizens, and a broad set of organizations across two administrations,” Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said. “They better meet Governor Glenn Youngkin’s directive to teach all history—the good and the bad—and will prepare all of Virginia’s students to become informed and engaged citizens and members of our democracy, communities and economy.”

Following acceptance of the draft by the Board of Education, the department will schedule public hearings on the proposed standards with the goal of final approval by the board.

 “With the draft standards now before the board, the department will begin the work of developing detailed curriculum frameworks for each grade and course,” Balow said. “The frameworks — which are used by teachers and division instructional staff to develop lesson plans and local curricula — will include content from the framework documents presented last summer and will be ready for review by the Board of Education in August 2023.”