Criteria for the Development of Standards

The development of national standards in United States and World History presents a special challenge in deciding what, of the great storehouse of human history, is the most significant for all students to acquire. Perhaps less contentious but no less important is deciding what historical perspectives and what skills in historical reasoning, values analysis, and policy thinking are essential for all students to achieve.

The following criteria, developed and refined over the course of a broad-based national review and consensus process, were adopted by the National Council for History Standards in order to guide the development of history standards for grades kindergarten through 12.

1. Standards should be intellectually demanding, reflect the best historical scholarship, and promote active questioning and learning rather than passive absorption of facts, dates, and names.

2. Such standards should be equally expected of all students and all students should be provided equal access to the curricular opportunities necessary to achieving those standards.

3. Standards should reflect the ability of children from the earliest elementary school years to learn the meanings of history and the methods of historians.

4. Standards should be founded in chronology, an organizing approach that fosters appreciation of pattern and causation in history.

5. Standards should strike a balance between emphasizing broad themes in United States and World History and probing specific historical events, ideas, movements, persons, and documents.

6. All historical study involves selection and ordering of information in light of general ideas and values. Standards for history should reflect the principles of sound historical reasoning-careful evaluation of evidence, construction of causal relationships, balanced interpretation, and comparative analysis. The ability to detect and evaluate distortion and propaganda by omission, suppression, or invention of facts is essential.

7. Standards should include awareness of, appreciation for, and the ability to utilize a variety of sources of evidence from which historical knowledge is achieved, including written documents, oral tradition, quantitative data, popular culture, literature, artifacts, art and music, historical sites, photographs, and films.

8. Standards for United States History should reflect both the nation’s diversity exemplified by race, ethnicity, social and economic status, gender, region, politics, and religion, and the nation’s commonalities. The contributions and struggles of specific groups and individuals should be included.

9. Standards in United States History should contribute to citizenship education through developing understanding of our common civic identity and shared civic values within the polity, through analyzing major policy issues in the nation’s history, and through developing mutual respect among its many people.

10. History standards should emphasize the nature of civil society and its relationship to government and citizenship. Standards in United States History should address the historical origins of the nation’s democratic political system and the continuing development of its ideals and institutions, its controversies, and the struggle to narrow the gap between its ideals and practices. Standards in World History should include different patterns of political institutions, ranging from varieties of democracy to varieties of authoritarianism, and ideas and aspirations developed by civilizations in all parts of the world.

11. Standards in United States and World History should be separately developed but interrelated in content and similar in format. Standards in United States History should reflect the global context in which the nation unfolded and World History should treat United States History as one of its integral parts.

12. Standards should include appropriate coverage of recent events in United States and World History, including social and political developments and international relations of the post World War II era.

13. Standards in United States and World History should utilize regional and local history by exploring specific events and movements through case studies and historical research. Local and regional history should enhance the broader patterns of United States and World History.

14. Standards in United States and World History should integrate fundamental facets of human culture such as religion, science and technology, politics and government, economics, interactions with the environment, intellectual and social life, literature, and the arts.

15. Standards in World History should treat the history and values of diverse civilizations, including those of the West, and should especially address the interactions among them.