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Development Committee

Fred Czarra, Coordinator, Council of Chief State School Officers, 1998-2005
Arthur Halbrook, Coordinator, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2005-Present
Bill Gerling, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Robert Jervis, Maryland Department of Education
Sara Moshman, MetaLogic, Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska
Joann Prewitt, Delaware Department of Education
Kim Rasmussen, Kansas Department of Education

Writers of Modules

  • Robert Jervis, Maryland
  • Marianne Kenney. Colorado
  • Barbara Johnson, Delaware
  • Bruce Damasio, Maryland
  • Cynthia Reeves, North Carolina
  • Warren Solomon, Missouri
  • Theresa Steinlage, Kansas
  • Joe Stoltman, Western Michigan University
  • Mary Suter, Missouri
  • Preston Shockley, Delaware
  • Betsy Wood, Maryland
  • Ernie O’Rourke, Maryland

Council of Chief State School Officers

Fred Czarra
Arthur Halbrook
Frank Philip

Critical Elements of Alignment

These modules model the process of curriculum alignment. They model alignment of curriculum (standards), instruction and assessment. As such, each of the components is integrally linked to other components in the module. This alignment process includes the following components.

National Standards

All of the modules are aligned to national standards. They each have a primary focus on history, economics, geography, or government/civics. In addition, they may have a secondary focus on any of the other social sciences and related social studies skills as identified by national standards. However, only the primary standard(s) is listed here. National standards are broad statements of what is to be learned in social studies. Often they are further subdivided into specific outcomes and indicators for each grade level.

State and Local Standards

States have used the national standards to define the content and skills to be taught at the local level. These standards are often referred to as “accountability standards” because they form the basis of assessment at the state level. States are encouraged to list specific state standards here that are directly related to the stated national standards covered by this module.

Essential Questions

Essential questions are derived from standards and go to the heart of the discipline. They ask “questions” about the big ideas and core concepts in the standards for the social studies content areas. Essential questions cross all grade levels and may call upon knowledge from the other social sciences and history. They may be addressed by this module using a variety of instructional strategies and by other modules using different strategies. Essential questions are addressed in every social studies classroom at every grade level at different levels of sophistication. In this module, instructional strategies to answer the essential questions are designed for this particular grade level(s).

Essential Content

The essential content of a module is the content needed to address the essential questions intelligently. No attempt is made to list all of the content that could be taught in the module; however, the module will contribute a core of knowledge to the discussion of these essential questions. As students move through other modules at this grade level, they will most likely encounter other content information useful in discussing these essential questions.

Essential Skills

A wide variety of skills are activated in any given module. The skills listed here are those for which there are specifically designed instructional strategies. However, a conscious attempt has been made to make connections to skills in other content areas. For example, reading and writing in the social studies is a reoccurring focus throughout the module.

Summative Assessment

The summative assessment can be referred to as the performance assessment for the module because it asks students to apply what they have learned in the module to a real life situation. It is designed to give evidence of student understanding of one or more of the essential questions and provides the student with the opportunity to do higher level thinking. In a summative assessment students demonstrate performance in a variety of ways. They may demonstrate understanding by writing or speaking; or they may create a product to demonstrate understanding. The summative assessment is generally scored by a rubric reflective of higher order thinking and allowing for feedback on how well the information and thinking were presented.

Instructional Strategies

To maintain the alignment of this module, each activity is aligned to a specific essential question. Knowledge and skills gained by students in doing the activity contribute to an understanding of the essential question. In addition, care is given to creating activities which move students from the more concrete levels of thinking to the more abstract. The goal is to move students to the higher levels of thinking required by the summative assessment. Instructional strategies are focused by the both the essential questions and the summative assessment.

Formative Assessments

For each activity, suggestions for formative assessments are given to encourage teachers to provide feedback to students on a regular basis. The assessment items for each activity are not inclusive and are only suggestive in terms of levels of thinking and the variety of items that can be used to provide immediate feedback to students. However, they should provide some indication to the teacher of how well students are progressing towards an understanding of the essential questions. The check for understanding is aligned to the instructional strategy and is another formative assessment for periodic monitoring of student learning.

Best Practices

Best Practices ties the suggested strategies to research. Wherever possible a link is provided for the teacher to learn more about the suggested strategy and to provide the research basis for the strategy. This link may also provide the teacher with a contact for additional information and links to other websites.


These fourteen modules were developed to demonstrate alignment of standards, assessments, and instruction.

Please read the introduction below and the critical elements of alignment which define the purpose, role, and structures of these modules before proceeding to the module menu.

The development of these modules was preceded by CSSAP Phase I, which began with the development of major themes in civics, economics, geography, and history. These themes and the national standards in civics, economics, geography, and history were integral in the development of these modules. The use of the CSSAP themes made it possible to link these modules with Phase I assessments and portfolios. The content, resources, essential questions, and the summative assessments are aligned with national standards in civics, economics, geography, and history. This process should assist states in the alignment of these modules to their state standards.

Each module begins with a national standard that identifies a concept, topic or theme. A summative assessment is then designed to give evidence of understanding the concepts, topics or themes in that standard. Next, essential questions are listed that are integral to the standard for that module. These essential questions link to resources for content, integrated skills, instructional strategies, and formative assessments that are aligned within activities. Beginning with the standard, the summative assessment, and the essential questions should result in content, skills, instructional strategies, and formative assessments that are aligned to the standard.

Through this process of alignment, the goal of these modules is to demonstrate:

  • alignment as a key element in instruction and assessment
  • summative assessments that give evidence of understanding through application
  • formative assessments that check for knowledge and understanding and align with the summative assessment
  • content, concepts, themes, and topics presented through different media
  • student-learning taking place through a variety of instructional strategies and discipline based best practices.



Note: All links in these modules were verified working as of April 21, 2005. 
Please let us know if you find links that are not functioning! Email:

Comprehensive Social Studies Assessment Project

A Collaboration of States Supporting the Development of 
Standards-Based Assessments in Social Studies

Assessment/Instructional Modules from Phase II

Fourteen Modules that Demonstrate Alignment of 
Standards, Assessment, and Instruction

Organizational Policies of Civics Partnership Advisory Council


(Approved: November 3. 2006)

The Civics Nebraska Partnership Advisory Council (CNPAC) is an advisory body to the Nebraska State Board of Education. Its membership is appointed by the State Board from individuals and representatives of organizations sharing the guiding principles of the Council. The State Board of Education reserves unto itself sole authority over civics curriculum requirements for school accreditation and approval. The CNPAC shall be established as of March 1, 2007 ("Effective Date").

In rendering advice to the State Board, the Council will be guided by the following principles:

2.01 The civic involvement of an educated and informed citizenry is critical to maintaining a free and democratic society.

2.02 It is the proper role of schools to educate students about the structure of American government and its philosophical underpinnings, and the structure of state and local government in Nebraska.

2.03 It is the proper role of schools to foster informed participation in the civic life of our nation, state, and localities.

2.04 It is the proper role of schools to foster love of country in which the essential genius of its foundation is strengthened by informed and constructive criticism of our country’s mechanisms and policies, and further to encourage the exercise of constitutional rights and responsibilities.

2.05 Utilization of methods such as service learning, discussion of current events, or simulations are useful to civic education when conducted in a non-partisan manner.

As an advisory body to the State Board of Education, CNPAC will advise the State Board regarding the following:

3.01 Methods to help ensure that civic education is a part of a well-rounded education for Nebraska students.

3.02 Methods to help improve the education of students on the importance of citizen involvement in a representative democracy.

3.03 Methods to promote the study of national, state and local government among the state’s citizenry.

3.04 Methods to enhance communication and collaboration among organizations in the state that conduct civic education programs and among civic education professionals.

3.05 Methods that support quality teacher education and professional development in order to ensure effective classroom civic education instruction and raise student achievement.

3.06 Methods for supporting and assisting with the P-16 alignment of social studies curriculum, including civics education.

3.07 Methods for identifying civic education programs, projects, and resources in the state and providing technical assistance as may be necessary.

3.08 Standards for civics education.

3.09 Board Policy as it relates to civic education.

Appointments to the CNPAC are made by the Board pursuant to its authorization. Section 79-318(9), R.R.S.,

The State Board of Education shall appoint all voting members of the CNPAC. Membership will consist of 13 voting members and one ex-officio non-voting member. Each member of the State Board of Education shall nominate one person, who shall reside within that member’s district. A representative shall be nominated from each of the three branches of state government. A representative shall be nominated by the University of Nebraska. A representative shall be nominated by a statewide nonprofit organization whose purpose directly relates to civic education. The social studies coordinator of the Nebraska Department of Education shall be an ex-officio non-voting member. Notwithstanding the term for which a CNPAC member was appointed, the State Board of Education may remove any voting member of the CNPAC at any time. Initial members of the CNPAC shall be appointed no later than February, 2007, or as soon thereafter as is practicable.

The nomination of members shall be in accordance with the following provisions:

5.01 University of Nebraska system.
One (1) representative shall be nominated from the University of Nebraska system, who shall be a member of the history or political science faculty of the University of Nebraska and whose area of specialty is American history or American government. The representative shall be nominated by the University President.

5.02 State Government.
One (1) representative shall be nominated from each of the three branches of state government. Individuals shall be nominated as follows:

5.02A The Executive Branch. One (1) individual shall be nominated by Governor to represent the Executive branch.

5.02B The Judicial Branch. One (1) individual shall be nominated by the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court to represent the Judicial branch.

5.02C The Legislative Branch. One (1) individual shall be nominated by the Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Legislature to represent the Legislative branch.

5.03 Statewide Non-Profit Organization
One (1) representative shall be nominated by a statewide non-profit organization interested in civics education. The organization making the nomination shall be selected by the Commissioner of Education.

The initial members of CNPAC shall be appointed for the following terms: Members representing the University of Nebraska, the Legislative branch, the Executive branch, the Judicial branch, and the statewide non-profit organization, shall each be appointed for a term of three years. Appointments of those nominated by State Board of Education members representing odd numbered districts shall be appointed for one year. Appointments of those nominated by State Board of Education members representing even numbered districts shall be appointed for two years. Upon expiration of the initial terms, all subsequent appointments shall be for three years. All appointments shall be subject to the reauthorization of CNPAC from time to time. All members of CNPAC may be reappointed upon expiration of their terms.

The CNPAC shall establish a chair and a secretary each by majority vote of all member of the CNPAC. The internal organization of CNPAC shall otherwise be determined by the CNPAC membership upon a majority vote of all members.


The CNPAC shall meet no less frequently than quarterly each year. Meetings of the CNPAC shall be subject to the Open Meeting Act and public notice of said meetings shall be made by the Recording Secretary by placing a notice of the meetings and a link to the agenda on the "Meetings and Conferences" web page of the NDE website and posting a notice and agenda in the notebook reserved for that purpose on the NDE receptionist’s desk copy 5 days in advance of the meetings. Special meetings of the Council may be called by the Chair subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

Minutes of all meetings shall be kept and shall be provided to members of the State Board of Education within thirty (30) days after each meeting.

A written and oral report from CNPAC to the State Board of Education shall be made annually, containing a summary of the work of CNPAC in the preceding twelve month period and any recommendations to the State Board of Education by CNPAC. The oral report shall be made to the State Board of Education at its May meeting. The written report shall be provided to members of the Board no less than 30 (thirty) days prior to the presentation of the oral report.

At each meeting of CNPAC, there shall be a visitors’ comment period at which time those members of the public wishing to address CNPAC shall have an opportunity to do so, subject to procedures adopted by CNPAC. The chair shall have the right to limit discussion in order to facilitate the work of CNPAC.

The CNPAC shall be in operation for an initial term of three years from and after the Effective Date. The operation of the CNPAC may be reauthorized by the State Board of Education for subsequent three-year terms.

CNPAC member expenses for attendance at CNPAC meetings or presentations to the State Board of Education shall be borne by the State of Nebraska in accordance with state approved expense guidelines.



Nebraska Partnership Roadmap

Civics Nebraska
Goals and Action Plan Proposals

Timeline: Immediate

Goal: Assess Nebraska’s need in the area of civic education.
Potential action plan proposals:

Idea#1: Develop a Nebraska survey. The need for improved civic education has been established nationally, but Nebraska would benefit from a more localized analysis.
Idea#2: Gather together people identified as having lost faith in government and politics to gain a better understanding of why they are not participating in the democratic process.
Idea#3: Convene a statewide roundtable, possibly using distance learning technology, to collect data, identify gaps and determine the next course of action.


Timeline: Some items could be launched simultaneously with Phase One. Some may need to wait for the Phase One assessment to be completed.

Goal #1: Bring the community into the schools and the schools into the community.
Potential action plan proposals:

Idea #1: Create a speakers bureau for schools to draw from. The speakers should be from all three branches of government and the political parties. Develop guidelines to make sure that speakers are beneficial for students.
Idea #2: Better utilize existing programs as a way to get students more involved in the community. Create a clearinghouse of civics-related programs as a resource for teachers and students. One way to do this would be to create a Web site (
Idea #3: Establish guidelines to make sure that service learning is meaningful for both the student and the organization. Encourage schools to allow students to participate in political campaigns for credit.

Goal #2: Improve students’ civic awareness and participation in our process.
Potential action plan proposals:

Idea #1: Encourage meaningful student government opportunities.
Idea #2: Encourage voter registration for high school seniors.
Idea #3: Encourage students to talk about civic participation in the home.


Timeline: After the assessment is completed

Goal: Better facilitate the civics curriculum needed in the classroom.
Potential action plan proposals:

Idea #1: Hold a teacher summit on civics to identify ways to assist teachers and avoid increasing their burden. The summit should serve as an open forum for sharing ideas.
Idea #2: Recommend a curriculum that instructs students how to participate in the process and that incorporates current events.
Idea #3: Encourage civic participation across the curriculum. Just as students work on writing skills in math and science, they also should relate class subjects to civic participation.


Links that Help Support the Nebraska K-12 Social Studies/History Standards
This provides free web-based civics resources designed for middle school students, including lesson plans, interactive modules and online games.

Nebraska Capitol Resources

Bureau of Justice Statistics
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a component of the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice, is the United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics.

FindLaw is a portal to the Internet’s legal information.
A Users Guide to the Declaration of Independence—organized by AARP, America Online, and MCI WorldCom—is a non-partisan, non-profit site. The mission: let’s harness the simplicity and innovative nature of the Internet to increase voter participation in the United States.

The American President
This website, which was developed in coordination with the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), will provide teachers and students with exciting tools and resources to learn and discover about a uniquely American idea—the presidency.

National Election Studies
The mission of the National Election Studies (NES) is to produce high quality data on voting, public opinion, and political participation that serve the research needs of social scientists, teachers, students, and policy makers concerned with the theoretical and empirical foundations of mass politics in a democratic society.

Nebraska Student Vote
Welcome to the Nebraska Student Vote website! It is designed to assist teachers and students to learn about the Nebraska Student Vote Program and to become registered in the program.

Alphabetical Listing of Civics/Government Links that
Help Support the Nebraska K-12 Social Studies/History Standards


All Politics (CNN Time)

(The) Atlantic Monthly—Political Resources

Center for Civic Education


(The) Civic Practices Network

(The) CloseUp Foundation


Education Commission of the States

Links to Civics at Work Related Web Sites

Nebraska Supreme Court

Nebraska Supreme Court for Teachers and Students

Rock the Vote

UniCAM Focus

Unicam Kids (grades 4-6)

Warner Institute for Demoracy in Education

(The) White House for Kids



Civics Nebraska


Organizational Policies of Civics Partnership Advisory Council


STAR Nebraska Social Studies/History Civics Standards


Nebraska Partnership Roadmap


Civics Nebraska Partnership: Student Civic Attitudes Survey


Nebraska State Statute 79-724


Social Studies Education

Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Teacher Resources

We have gathered some of the many Sesquicentennial Teacher Resources and put them all in one place. Please visit the link at the left under “Resources” for a link to our webpage, and links to other great things going on in the State of Nebraska.

4th Grade Nebraska Atlas

Classroom sets of the colorful Nebraska Student Atlas have been distributed by ESU’s across the state of Nebraska. The atlas is designed to be integrated into the 4th grade Nebraska Studies curriculum to enhance and improve the understanding of history, geography, civics and economics concepts.

If your school has not received the 4th Grade student atlas’, please contact:

Deb Hericks

New Social Studies Standards

Horizontal Version

Vertical Version

Social Studies

Social Studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

National Council for the Social Studies, 1992

Mission Statement

The mission of the social studies is to develop capable citizens who are empowered with knowledge, skills, and attitudes enabling them to make informed decisions in a culturally diverse and interdependent world.

Strategic Plan, 1993