The NCHE Board of Directors Statement Regarding the South Dakota Social Studies Standards

The NCHE Board of Directors, by a vote of 13-1, approved this statement.

April 21, 2023

The National Council for History Education stands by history teachers in South Dakota. Teachers are professionals and experts in their field, and their perspective is critical to the creation of standards, resources, or curriculum that directly impact their classroom instruction.

The social studies standards recently approved by the South Dakota Board of Education did not adequately take into account the expertise of its teachers. In the elementary grades, the history content and skills are not developmentally appropriate, nor are they reflective of the historical content training that K-5 teachers receive. The standards rely heavily on historical content that is not appropriately scaffolded and do not allow sufficient time for vocabulary, reflection, and comprehension.

Quality history education in K-12 classrooms is different from post-secondary spaces. K-12 history instruction and standards must balance content, skills, pedagogy, and classroom management. We submit the South Dakota standards do not reflect teachers’ understanding of this balance and will not result in quality history education. As demonstrated by the hundreds of comments from the education community in opposition to these standards, few teachers were involved in the development and adoption process. This disregard is in direct contrast with NCHE’s mission, which is to support and engage with K-12 history educators as the experts and professionals that they are.

The National Council for History Education supports the teaching of accurate history that illuminates diverse stories and historical thinking skills, which are critical to students’ success. We stand alongside South Dakota classroom teachers and will continue to support teachers as professionals in the face of those who exclude their expertise.

Download the statement here.