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case study, Common Core, core curricula, elementary, integration, social studies


Education reform over the last two decades has changed perceptions of core curricula. Although social studies has traditionally been part of the core, emphasis on standards-based teaching and learning, along with elaborate accountability schemes, is causing unbalanced treatment of subjects. While the research literature indicates teachers are spending less time on social studies, perceptions about the subject are more complicated. Some educators accept the value of social studies knowledge and skills, while others see it as an auxiliary subject for supporting test achievement. Integration is one way elementary school teachers reconcile the need to focus on tested disciplines, while holding to traditional notions of the core curricula. Results from a case study involving elementary teachers show integration as the preferred method for teaching social studies. Participants, however, also indicated they were unable to achieve effective integration due to time constraints, limited training, and inadequate curricular resources. The trajectory of standards-based reform suggests educators will continue to encounter obstacles that impede integration. Systematic change that preserves the place of social studies as part of the core curricula is unlikely. Nevertheless, adoption of Common Core standards presents an opportunity for educators to reexamine the merits of social studies integration.

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© 2015 Journal of Social Studies Education Research

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