The Implications of the Missing Infrastructure for Elementary Social Studies

Diverse group of elementary students, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Event Details


Wednesday, March 15


2–3 p.m. ET / 11 a.m.–12 p.m. PT

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Public schools have historically served as important institutions that play a critical role in developing students’ civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Over the past few decades, however, school systems have increasingly sidelined students’ civic development as one of their central priorities.

In this webinar, RAND researchers will present findings from a literature review and nationally representative surveys of teachers and principals to understand the state of infrastructure to support elementary social studies instruction during the 2021–2022 school year. By infrastructure, the authors mean the policies in place at the state, district, and school levels that, when combined, create an environment to support teachers’ instructional practices and, therefore, student learning. The authors find the infrastructure to support elementary social studies instruction is often missing or inadequate. State standards vary in quality, there is less assessment and accountability, teachers receive less professional development and feedback from principals, and also less guidance around curriculum materials. Importantly, the lack of infrastructure for social studies instruction is in sharp contrast to that provided for other core subject areas and has important consequences for how teachers approach this subject.

Discussants from inquirED, iCivics, and the National Council for the Social Studies will reflect on what these findings imply for school systems and offer suggestions of what kind of infrastructure improvements can be made at the state- and local-levels to better support social studies instruction.


Julia H. Kaufman

Julia H. Kaufman

Julia Kaufman is a senior policy researcher who codirects the American Educator Panels. Her research focuses on how states and school systems can support high-quality instruction and student learning, as well as methods for measuring educator perceptions and instruction. She has led studies on how to support students' civics knowledge, skills, and dispositions; how state policies can encourage effective use of high-quality materials; implementation and student outcomes associated with the strategies of the Louisiana Department of Education; perceptions and implementation of state standards for kindergarten through twelfth-grade students; and implementation, outcomes, and costs associated with pipelines for preparing, hiring, and supporting high-quality school leaders and teachers. She holds a Ph.D. in international education from New York University and an M.A. in teaching from the University of Pittsburgh.

Melissa Diliberti

Melissa Diliberti

Melissa Kay Diliberti is an assistant policy researcher at RAND and a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She analyzes data from RAND's American Educator Panels to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping the U.S. education system. Her research interests include domestic and international education policy. Her dissertation research focuses on high school social studies course taking. Prior to joining Pardee RAND, she was a researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where she provided analysis support to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Diliberti has an M.P.P. from the George Washington University and a B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Michigan.

Louise Dubé

Louise Dubé

Louise Dubé serves as the executive director of iCivics. iCivics materials provide high-quality history and civic education to 9 million students annually in all 50 states. iCivics also champions civic education as a priority for a healthy democracy. iCivics is the winner of many awards, including Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Education Companies, and EdTech Creator winner from Unity.

Previously, Dubé served as managing director of digital learning at WGBH where she helped launch PBS LearningMedia, a platform reaching over 1.5 million educators. Before WGBH, Dubé had a successful career in educational technology publishing. Dubé began her career as a co-founder of CASES, a New York alternative-to-incarceration program where education helped reshape lives.

Dubé won the 2017 People’s Voice award from the Diane Von Furstenberg - Diller Foundation as well as the 2018 Civvys - American Civic Collaboration National award from Bridge Alliance. She was also recognized as a 2019 Donaldson Fellow by the Yale School of Management. Dubé is a frequent commentator on civic education in a range of media outlets from the Washington Post to PBS. Dubé began her career as an attorney in Montreal, Canada, and holds a law degree from McGill University, as well as an MBA from Yale University.

Shanti Elangovan

Shanti Elangovan

Shanti Elangovan is the founder and CEO of inquirED, an education startup focused on ensuring all students, regardless of geography or circumstance, have the opportunity to engage in high quality inquiry-based learning. As a former elementary school classroom teacher and instructional coach, Elangovan believes deeply in high quality instructional materials that provide both the professional learning and support teachers need to bring inquiry to life in their classrooms. Elangovan holds an M.Ed. from Teachers College as well as an MBA from the University of Iowa.

Lawrence Paska

Lawrence Paska

Dr. Lawrence Paska is the executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies. He began his appointment in October 2016. As NCSS’ chief staff executive, he is responsible for implementing the strategic priorities, policies, and actions approved by the NCSS Board of Directors, and expanding a network of social studies professionals nationwide. Paska began his career as a middle school social studies teacher in New York State public school districts. He later served in multiple roles at the New York State Education Department, leading New York’s standards and assessment programs for P–12 social studies education as a state social studies specialist. Paska returned to schools as the Director of Social Studies for the Harrison Central School District, leading K–12 social studies, business, and library media departments. Most recently, Paska served as the director of professional development for the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), where he and his team provided instructional programs and services for 32 public school districts in the greater New York City region and were instrumental in implementing New York State’s K–12 Social Studies Framework. He earned a B.A. in History and an M.A.T. in Social Studies from Union College (Schenectady, NY) and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University at Albany (Albany, NY).

Register for This Program

Please register online to attend. Contact Aaron Lang with questions about the event.