Standards and Assessments: Challenges of Developing the History Blueprint

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 11:50 AM
Chicago Ballroom F (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Shennan L. Hutton, California History-Social Science Project, University of California, Davis
The History Blueprint units will be based upon content standards which are common to many states.  Although the differences among state standards are often highlighted, there are actually far more similarities and overlapping areas among the states.  The Civil War, for example, is a part of every American history curriculum, and it is frequently taught in the eighth grade.  In addition, History Blueprint units will be coordinated with the Common Core standards for analysis and writing.  Many of the elements of the History Blueprint came from the past twenty years of work by the CHSSP or benefit from the work done by many other dedicated historians.  For primary sources, for example, there are numerous websites, edited collections, and some models for helping students access those readings.  The university and K-12 historians of the CHSSP have developed, tested, and revised a framework of historical thinking skills and methods for teaching those to students.  However, the History Blueprint’s assessment effort moves in a new direction.  All agree that the current multiple choice systems focus on facts, whereas written forms of assessment show student understanding of concepts and analytical abilities.  Historians prefer the written method, but school administrators prefer multiple-choice for its ease of scoring.  One challenge of Blueprint is to compose assessments that measure quality of analysis, and are still practical for the state testing programs.  A second challenge is to make assessments that help teachers measure what their students know before and during a unit as well as at the end.  The third is to develop an online system to administer the assessments to students, and convey the results to parents.