281 IAC 12.5(5) Grades 9 through 12 must complete a minimum of 5 units of social studies in order to graduate. Beginning with the 2010-2011 graduating class, students must complete at least 3 units of social studies that “may include the existing graduation requirements of one-half unit of United States government and one unit of United States history.”
12.5(5)(b) “Social studies (5 units). Social studies instruction shall include citizenship education, history, and the social sciences. Instruction shall encompass the history of the United States and the history and cultures of other peoples and nations including the analysis of persons, events, issues, and historical evidence reflecting time, change, and cause and effect. Instruction in United States government shall include an overview of American government through the study of the United States Constitution, the bill of rights, the federal system of government, and the structure and relationship Ch 12, p.4 IAC between the national, state, county, and local governments; and voter education including instruction in statutes and procedures, voter registration requirements, the use of paper ballots and voting machines in the election process, and the method of acquiring and casting an absentee ballot. Students’ knowledge of the Constitution and the bill of rights shall be assessed…All students in grades nine through twelve must, as a condition of graduation, complete a minimum of one-half unit of United States government and one unit of United States history and receive instruction in the government of Iowa.”
The Iowa Social Studies Core Curriculum is structured around five core social studies content areas, one of which is Political Science/Civic Literacy. For each area, knowledge and skills have been identified and defined in terms of detailed understandings that students should be able to apply.
“Political science is the study of power and authority through the examination of political processes, governmental institutions, and human behavior in a civil society. In this context the study of civics is understood to include the form and function of government. Civic literacy encompasses civics but also addresses the individual’s social and political participation.” (page 37)
Primary (K – 2)
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the basic concepts of government and democracy and that the Constitution defines the rights and responsibilities of citizens. (SS.K-2.PSCL.1)
- Understand what the US Constitution is and why it is important.
- Understand the purpose of rules.
- Understand the concept of fairness.
- Understand rights and responsibilities.
Intermediate (3 – 5)
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the rights and responsibilities of each citizen and demonstrate the value of lifelong civic action. (SS.3-5.PSCL.1)
- Understand what it means to be a citizen.
- Understand why civic responsibility is important and know examples of civic responsibility.
- Understand that Congress passes laws to protect individual rights.
- Understand how people can participate in their government.
- Understand what political leaders do and why leadership is necessary in a democracy.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand how the government established by the Constitution embodies the enduring values and principles of democracy and republicanism. (SS.3-5 PSCL.2) o Understand the fundamental values and principles of American democracy.
- Understand the difference between power and authority.
- Understand fundamental values and principles of American democracy are expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as in American songs, stories, and speeches.
- Understand the costs and benefits of diversity in American society.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the purpose and function of each of the three branches of government established by the Constitution. (SS.3-5.PSCL.3)
- Understand that the legislative branch passes laws to protect individual rights.
- Understand that the executive branch carries out and enforces laws to protect individual rights.
- Understand that the judicial branch, headed by the Supreme Court, makes decisions concerning the law that aim to protect individual rights.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the differences among local, state and national government. (SS.3-5.PSCL.4)
- Understand the roles of local, state and national government and the roles of representative leaders at these levels such as mayor, governor and President.
- Understand major services provided by national, state, and local governments.
- Understand how national, state and local government officials are chosen.
Middle (6 – 8)
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand how the government established by the Constitution embodies the principles of democracy and republicanism. (SS.6-8.PSCL.2)
- Understand the essential ideas of American government that are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other documents.
- Understand the concepts of constitutional government as fundamental principles of American democracy.
- Understand the essential characteristics of limited and unlimited governments.
- Understand the basic concepts of a federal system of government.
- Understand values such as individual rights, the common good, self-government, justice, equality, diversity, openness and free inquiry, truth, patriotism are fundamental to American public life.
- Understand the type of citizenry needed to establish and maintain constitutional government.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the purpose and function of each of the three branches of government established by the Constitution. (SS.6-8.PSCL.3)
- Understand the primary responsibilities of each branch of government in a system of shared powers (legislative, executive, judicial) and ways in which each branch shares the powers and functions of the other branches.
- Understand how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches use checks and balances.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the similarities and differences among the complex levels of local, state and national government. (SS.6-8.PSCL.4)
- Understand the relationship between state and local governments and the national government.
- Understand the powers and responsibilities of local, state and national governments.
High School (9 – 12)
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the purpose and function of each of the three branches of government established by the Constitution. (SS.9-12.PSCL.3)
- Understand the purpose of government and how its powers are acquired, used and justified.
- Understand the necessity of politics and government.
- Understand the purposes, organization, and functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and the independent regulatory agencies.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the differences among the complex levels of local, state and national government and their inherent, expressed, and implied powers. (SS.9-12.PSCL.4)
- Understand the design and features of the Constitution prevent the abuse of power by aggregating power at the national, state, and local levels and using a system of checks and balances.
- Understand provisions of the Constitution and principles of the constitutional system help to insure a government that will not exceed its limits.
- Understand the limits the United States Constitution places on the powers of the states and on the powers of the national government over state governments.
- Understand the policies of state and local governments provide citizens with ways to monitor and influence the actions of members of government and hold them responsible for their actions.
- Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand how law and public policy are established at the local, state, and national levels of government. (SS.9-12.PSCL.6)
- Understand the purposes and functions of law.
- Understand the processes by which public policy concerning a local, state, or national issue is formed and carried out.
- Understand issues concerning the relationship between state and local governments and the national government.