American Instructional Resources Surveys
Nov 15, 2022
This report uses data from the RAND Corporation's American Educator Panels to investigate the state of infrastructure to support elementary social studies instruction during the 2021–2022 school year. The report illustrates that the underprovision of infrastructure for social studies instruction is in sharp contrast to other core subject areas and has important consequences for how teachers approach this subject.
Findings from the 2022 American Instructional Resources Survey
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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. State policies have also emphasized improving student achievement in such core subjects as reading, math, and science, often leaving out social studies.
This report presents findings from a literature review and nationally representative surveys of teachers and principals conducted via the RAND Corporation's American Educator Panels 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 also find that 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.
These findings imply that improvements to social studies instruction and student learning require comprehensive supports, much more than piecemeal efforts, at all levels in schools across the United States.
The research described in this report was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
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