Proposed framework for K-12 history instruction drafted at UC Davis

Staff of the UC Davis-based California History-Social Science Project, sitting on steps

Staff members of the California History-Social Science Project work with teachers statewide to improve classroom instruction. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Nancy McTygue, Beth Slutsky, Shennan Hutton, Jo Eberle, Tuyen Tran (middle), Rosemary Renteria and Shelley Brooks.

Oct. 8, 2015 — Four alumni will be watching closely Oct. 8-9 when a proposed new framework for history and social sciences instruction in California K-12 schools gets its first public hearing.

Nancy McTygue, Beth Slutsky, Shennan Hutton led the writing effort, with support from their colleague Shelley Brooks, working with colleagues across the state. The 913-page document, which, if adopted by the state Board of Education next spring, will be the first overhaul of the state’s history-social science framework in a decade.

Devoted to helping teachers

All four co-authors are affiliated with the UC Davis-based California History-Social Science Project, which helps teachers statewide improve their classroom instruction. McTygue, who has three UC Davis degrees (B.A. in political science, a teaching credential and a master’s degree in education), is executive director. The other three, all history Ph.D. alums, are CHSSP program coordinators and lecturers in the history department. Hutton also teaches in the Classics Department.

McTygue will have a close-up view of the hearing at the state Department of Education in Sacramento. She serves on the state Instructional Quality Commission and co-chairs the committee that is holding the two-day meeting (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9).

The hearing, expected to draw comments from hundreds of people from throughout California, will be webcast. McTygue and colleagues began revising the framework in 2008, initially hired by the state, but their contract was suspended a year later during a state budget crisis. With the exception of a grant from the Bechtel Foundation, their work ever since has been pro bono.

A guide on how to teach history

The draft framework aligns history instruction with the Common Core standards adopted by California in 2010, weaving critical reading, inquiry and writing into the teacher guidelines.

The framework is a companion document to state standards, which lay out the history and social science topics for teachers to cover in each grade—California history in fourth grade, U.S. history and geography in fifth, ancient civilizations in sixth, and so on.  

“The standards are about what to teach,” McTygue said. “The framework deals with how to teach it.” 

After hearing public comment on the proposed framework this week, the History-Social Science Subject Matter Committee could send the document to the full Instructional Quality Commission. If approved by the commission, the framework would go to the state Board of Education for a vote. If adopted, after it would take effect in summer 2016.


Reported by Kathleen Holder, who covers the social sciences for the College of Letters and Science.