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State of the State Standards


This research continues the Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education’s investigation into State Middle School and High School Geography Standards and Course Requirements.  Conducted by a graduate seminar class at Texas State University during the fall of 2013, the purpose of this research was to examine the status of geography within social studies standards and course requirements in the United States and the District of Columbia, examining each state separately.  The data used to create the maps and tables can be found on the information pages about each state in the last section of the report. 

While many states include the teaching and learning of geographic concepts, knowledge, and skills within their K-12 curriculum, the focus of this survey is the presence of geography standards and course requirements from sixth grade to twelfth grade.  The research did not aim to identify geography taught at the kindergarten to fifth grade levels because social studies courses at these grade levels generally encompass a mixture of social studies subject matter areas. We must also note that the U.S. K-12 education system is in constant flux and different priorities often impact state standards and graduation requirements, especially for social studies, and for geography, in particular. 

The original intent of this collection of social studies standards/strands information was to provide data for longitudinal analysis of trends in social studies/geography emphasis on a state by state basis. This has proven to be very difficult, as states have changed their definitions, course titles, and graduation requirements. We hope that this document proves useful, but we caution researchers to look deeper, when and if changes are apparent, from year to year. You may simply be looking at a varying definition rather than a more substantive matter, such as a change in teaching and learning requirements.