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Family and Community Guide for High School Social Studies

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for students studying high school social studies. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

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Social Studies (adopted 2022)

Building on the social studies skills developed throughout the elementary and middle school grades, students in high school study world history (Renaissance to the present), world geography, United States history (Reconstruction to the present), economics (including personal financial literacy), and United States government. Throughout high school, students investigate historical events, examine geographic features and resources, consider economic decision-making processes, and analyze the rights, roles, and responsibilities of citizens.

In U.S. History, students:

  • Construct and defend a historical argument about United States History (from Reconstruction to the present).
  • Identify patterns of continuity and change over time for significant historical periods.
  • Discuss the ideas that shape(d) people and places.
  • Use maps and other geographic tools to explain interactions between people and places.
  • Trace the expansion of political engagement through civil rights movements and issues of unity and diversity.
  • Examine and evaluate how the United States was involved in and responded to international events such as the World Wars, the Holocaust, Cold War policies, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the genocides in Bosnia and Darfur.
  • Trace the immigration and migration patterns of different groups in the United States from Reconstruction to present day.
  • Describe and analyze the historical development and impact of the arts and literature on the culture of the United States, such as the writings of the Muckrakers, political cartoons, the Harlem Renaissance, Rock and Roll, and protest songs.
  • Explain how government structures and policies impact societies and citizens.

In World History, Students: 

  • Analyze and evaluate primary and secondary sources to examine ideas, events, and historical periods that shaped World History (from the Renaissance to the present).
  • Use the historical method of inquiry to formulate questions; identify patterns of continuity and change over time for significant historical periods within and among cultures and societies.
  • Discuss world religions and other ideas that shape(d) people and places.
  • Discuss issues that unify cultural/national groups (independence movements/decolonization), and issues that divide or separate people (the Holocaust and other genocides).
  • Explore the historical development and contemporary impact of philosophical movements and major world religions.
  • Use maps and other geographic tools to explain the interactions of people and places.
  • Explain how places and regions are connected.
  • Trace the formation of different forms of governments.
  • Explain how government structures and policies impact societies and citizens.

In Geography, Students:

  • Use geographic tools and resources to analyze Earth’s human systems and physical features.
  • Evaluate relationships between locations and their political, cultural, and economic relationships. using maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations.
  • Assess and evaluate the interconnected nature of the world, its people, and places.
  • Analyze human/environmental interactions and explain the impact on global interdependence.
  • Research multiple viewpoints on problems and policies regarding the use of Earth’s resources (sustainability, natural hazards and disasters, prosperity and poverty, and resource use).
  • Predict how human activities will shape Earth’s surface.
  • Examine ways that people cooperate and compete for use of Earth’s resources and how control of resources can lead to conflict, competition, and cooperation.
  • Research cultural diffusion, population issues, and environmental issues.
  • Analyze patterns of movement, population distribution, and the causes and effects of migration.

In Economics, students:

  • Analyze how the scarcity of resources (land, labor, capital) forces choices to be made about how individuals, households, businesses, and governments allocate these resources.
  • Evaluate how mixed economic systems, market structures, competition, government policies, and the roles of producers and consumers affect market outcomes.
  • Analyze how the business cycle affects the macroeconomy.
  • Explain that choices made by individuals, businesses, and government are influenced by incentives and policies.
  • Analyze policies aimed at stabilizing the economy (fiscal policy by the government and monetary policy by the Federal Reserve).
  • Contrast different economic systems (capitalism, socialism, communism, mixed market system).
  • Define characteristics of market structures (pure competition, monopolistic competition, monopoly).
  • Explore the implications of international trade.

In Civics, students:

  • Research and formulate positions on government policies and on local, state, tribal, and national issues.
  • Describe the foundation and functions of government (rule of law, common good), and its structures (Legislative, Executive, Judicial, Federal, and State).
  • Understand how domestic public policy is made at local, state, tribal, and national levels.
  • Research current issues (immigration, education, civil rights) to influence public policy.
  • Identify which level of government is appropriate to communicate with regarding political issues.
  • Evaluate the accuracy and perspective of various media sources and describing how media acts as a check on governmental practices.
  • Analyze competing democratic values (freedom vs. security, individual rights vs. common good).
  • Explain how the founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights) embody the principles of democracy and values such as freedom, security, equality, and individual rights and responsibilities.
  • Analyze the processes for amending the Constitutions of Colorado and the United States and the significant changes that have occurred to those documents including both the Colorado and the United States’ Bills of Rights.
  • Describe the relationship of tribal governments with state and federal governments. Including but not limited to: The Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribal governments and the State of Colorado.
  • Analyze options for participating in local, state, tribal, and national policy development (initiatives, voting, protest, referendum, party participation, campaigns).
  • Assess the effectiveness of the justice system, executive actions, and the legislative process in preserving and promoting the ideals of the U.S. system of government.
  • Use court decisions and legislative actions to trace the development of the rights and ideals of America’s representative democracy.

In Personal Financial Literacy, students:

  • Make personal financial decisions based on reliable information and individual and community values and goals.
  • Analyze sources of income and the relationship between career preparation, continuing education, and its impact on lifetime earning potential.
  • Examine the four parts of the budgeting process. This includes factors that impact an individual’s earning capability, investment options, consumer skills, and risk management strategies.
  • Explore a diversified investment strategy that is compatible with personal financial goals.
  • Explore the alternatives, consequences, and responsibilities associated with personal financial decisions.
  • Analyze the impact of economic conditions and cost of living factors on income and purchasing power.
  • Investigate the total cost, affordability, and payment options associated with postsecondary options, degrees, and credentials.
  • Summarize factors to consider when selecting borrowing options, including costs, relevance, payoffs, and tradeoffs.
  • Consider the decisions and opportunities consumers face in order to become financially capable individuals, including income sources, investment choices, insurance benefits, and spending, saving, and borrowing options.