Nearly a quarter century after the meltdown of a national effort to set history standards, two federal agencies are putting a toe back into troubled curricular waters: determining what history and civics content students should learn—and the best ways for teaching it.
The National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education have made a $650,000 award to the curriculum and advocacy group iCivics and several university partners, to design a "roadmap" to guide teachers, publishers, and state officials on how to create integrated history and civics content. The document will be unveiled in September 2020.
Both NEH and iCivics officials emphasized that the project will not attempt to craft grade-by-grade content standards. But it will detail "high priority" content areas that bridge the two disciplines, along with teaching methods and principles for curriculum development.
"We would not be issuing in any way national teaching standards," said Jon Parrish Peede, the current chairman of the NEH, about his expectations for the project. "I think the outcome everyone is looking for is A, to bring greater awareness to civics education and the importance of teaching civics, and B, how to deliver that knowledge for students," Peede said. "And if we do A and B successfully, then there's certainly a possibility it may impact teaching standards down the line, but that is not the outcome we're pursuing. That may be a byproduct of bringing greater awareness to these best practices."
Civics and ethics centers at Harvard University, Arizona State University, and Tufts University will all work with iCivics on the initiative.