An inquirED Blog

New Standards, New Directions: When Your State Goes All-In for Inquiry

Updated: Oct 14

inquirED: States Go All in For Inquiry

States spend years crafting new inquiry-based social studies standards, but what happens after these standards are published? How are state and district leaders not only helping educators understand the ins and outs of inquiry-based social studies, but also helping them find the high-quality instructional materials they need? To discuss these questions, we were joined on our webinar by Asif Wilson (Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign), Reuben Henriques (History and Social Science Content Lead, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), and Christine Brennan-Davis, Partnerships Executive at inquirED.


Trends in State Standards

The publication of the C3 Framework, and later on the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap, have proven to be watershed moments for social studies nationwide. They share the philosophy that knowledge and understanding arise from the inquiry process.

  • Creating and investigating questions

  • Gathering and evaluating sources

  • Developing claims, and supporting those claims with evidence and reasoning,

  • Communicating ideas and taking informed action

Impact of the C3 Framework

Christine Brennan-Davis, a Partnerships Executive at inquirED, shared an analysis of the trends in social studies standards adoption across the country. Not surprisingly these trends have been greatly influenced by the C3 Framework. “It's been about 9 years since the publication of the Framework,” Brennan-Davis shared, “and the impact is pretty tremendous.” According to a recent analysis, 36 states – with more to follow – have integrated inquiry principles into their social studies standards, setting the instructional priorities for over 30 million students.

Brennan-Davis also shared that in addition to a focus on inquiry, there has been a renewed focus and commitment to civics education. “I think this is really where the EAD Roadmap provides guidance both on history and civics,” she said, “and makes a real call for strengthening history and civic learning nationwide.”

According to Brennan-Davis, another trend across state standards is toward more inclusive and culturally responsive social studies.” In some cases, states are integrating ethnic studies into their social studies standards,” she shared, “and paying really particular attention to the inclusion of voices and perspectives from historically marginalized groups.”

It’s clear that there is a trend in state standards toward inclusive inquiry-based social studies. But how are these standards being translated into practice?