Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies Introduction

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but with the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform their discretion through instruction. -Thomas Jefferson (1820)

In order to ensure our survival as a free nation, students at all grade levels in Wisconsin are required to learn about the principles and ideals upon which the United States is founded and understand the world in which they live.

Definition of Social Studies

"Social studies" is the title used to describe the study of the social sciences and humanities. Within the curriculum, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study of information, skills, and concepts from the disciplines of history, geography, political science, economics, anthropology, psychology, law, archaeology, and sociology with attention also given to connections among the peoples and nations of the world, the effect of science and technology on society (and vice versa), and the ways to practice good citizenship. Social studies helps young people develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed and reasoned decisions as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

Knowledge and Skills

Students at all levels should develop skills and understandings in all five strands found in the Wisconsin content standards for social studies. These skills and understandings are embedded in the performance standards. The curriculum in elementary and middle schools establishes the foundation for the entire social studies program. Without this foundation, students cannot develop the attitudes nor acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in a democratic society and understand an increasingly complex world. It is also important to recognize that the designated levels, by grade four, by grade eight, and by grade twelve, lead students to higher and deeper levels of knowledge and skills as they progress through school.

Connections in Social Studies

The organization of these standards allows the social studies curriculum to be developed as separate disciplines or in an integrated course. In elementary, and middle and junior high schools, the five strands of social studies are usually integrated in a time during the day called "social studies." In high schools, the social studies courses are given names such as United States History, Geography, Global Studies, World History, Economics, Civics, Social Studies, Current Events, Sociology, Psychology, and so on. Courses with these names might include performance standards from one, several, or all of the social studies strands.



Social Studies Content & Performance Standards
Content Standard
Performance Standard



Standard A--Geography Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12
Standard B--History Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12
Standard C--Political Science and Citizenship Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12
Standard D--Economics Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12
Standard E--Behavioral Sciences Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12