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New Standards in Iowa Would Include Critical Thinking, Financial Literacy

The Hawkeye State is the latest state planning to update its social studies standards with a little help from the College, Career, & Civic Life Framework, also known as the C3 Framework.

The Iowa Department of Education released a set of the draft standards earlier this week. They would include financial literacy for the first time. The proposed standards also prioritize critical thinking skills and include Iowa history for the first time. 

Iowa was late to the movement to have statewide content standards, as Education Week reported in 2008. This is the first revision to the history standards since then. According to the Business Record, the changes come after a survey of social studies teachers found that teachers wanted more specific standards.

Unlike the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics, the C3 Framework in social studies does not have specific learning standards. Instead, it lays out an "Inquiry Arc" to guide social studies standards writers. The framework is broken into four sections: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries; Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools; Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence; and Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action. Illinois and New York are among the states that have used the framework, which was developed by the National Council for the Social Studies and other professional and academic organizations, as they revisited their social studies standards. 

Iowa's new standards incorporate the framework's ideas and also include more detailed standards on topics such as Iowa history than the current standards.

Iowa's changes come as changes to history curricula in other states have caused a stir. In Tennessee, a set of revisions to social studies standards that prioritize critical thinking and drop some specific details about state history have drawn such an influx of comments and concerns that the state extended a deadline for public comment. Arizona is also planning to revise its standards in science and social studies.

Iowa's standards are much less specific than Tennessee's: They don't require schools to teach about particular battles or historical pictures. Part of the Iowa education department's writing team told Radio Iowa she expects less controversy because of that.

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