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Social Studies

Social Studies education helps students understand the world in which they live and prepares them with the knowledge and skills to become informed, thoughtful, and active citizens in a culturally diverse democratic society and complex world.

Social Studies draws upon anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences (adapted from the National Council for the Social Studies [NCSS] definition of Social Studies).

RIDE creates conditions for every Rhode Island student to think critically and collaboratively, and act as a creative, self-motivated, culturally, and globally competent learner. Rhode Island students are prepared to lead fulfilling and productive lives, succeed in academic and employment settings, and contribute meaningfully to society (RIDE Strategic Plan, 2021-2027). 

Draft RI Social Studies Standards for Stakeholder Input

The draft Rhode Island Social Studies Standards are published below for review and input!

Input will be open through December 19. Thank you for taking the time to review and provide input. Your feedback is vital to our revision process before we can obtain endorsement from the Council for Elementary and Secondary Education. For more information about the social studies standards revision, please see the tab below. 

The Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) for Social Studies have been developed as a means to identify the content knowledge and skills expected of all students (grades K-high school)


Strand-Specific Documents

These documents contain the Social Studies GSEs for all grade spans for either all strands or a particular strand. The documents are available for download as DOC or PDF format.

Grade Span Specific Documents


These documents contain the Social Studies GSEs for each grade span, essential questions generated from the GSEs, and suggested topics or resources for lessons.


Appendices for the Social Studies GSES



Supporting Documents



Civics GSES Resource Alignment Materials




In September 2019, the Rhode Island Department of Elementary & Secondary Education invited Rhode Island educators to participate as members of a new Rhode Island History & Social Studies Advisory Committee (RIHSSAC). Through an application process, RIDE selected approximately 30 social studies, history, civic education, and elementary teachers from across the state to form this new advisory.

This Committee acts as advisors to RIDE and ambassadors to the education community on matters of history, civics, and social studies education. This committee also serve as a working group for a variety of initiatives, including the review of the current RI Social Studies Grade Span Expectations (RI SS GSEs) in light of legislation requiring high quality standards for all content areas (RIGL §16-22-30).

The Committee has been integral to the progress of the current standards revision process. Committee members dedicated hours to engaging with the community to gather feedback that is being used throughout the standards revision process, have developed draft standards, will review draft frameworks, and will continue to help RIDE engage the community during public feedback.

For more information on the RIHSSAC, please email: Social Studies


In 2019, new regulation requiring high quality standards for all content areas (RIGL §16-22-30), prompted RIDE to review the current Rhode Island Social Studies Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) against the criteria in the legislation with the help of a team of educators on the then newly formed RIHSSAC (Rhode Island History Social Studies Advisory Committee). The review led to the recommendation that the standards be revised. In December 2019, the Council on Elementary & Secondary Education approved RIDE's recommendation to continue with the RI Social Studies GSEs until such a time as replacement social studies standards that fully met the requirements of the legislation could be developed and endorsed.

In the spring of 2020, the RIHSSAC met monthly to determine next steps for developing social studies standards through a process that included substantial stakeholder engagement. During the summer, the Community Engagement Committee of the RIHSSAC began planning for community engagement sessions to inform the direction of the standards, the frameworks, and supporting resources.

Initial Community Engagement Phase

During the fall of 2020 and into the spring of 2021, the RIHSSAC Community Engagement Committee worked with community organizations statewide to set up virtual feedback sessions culminating in a statewide survey. RIDE also scheduled three virtual sessions for educators and community members to engage in the process. At these sessions, participants received an overview of the project, had opportunities to reflect about social studies education, and discussed their ideas in breakout rooms before being provided the survey link to complete. For more information, please review the Introductory Slides [PDF] or the Recorded Presentation [MP4] given at the sessions.

The feedback is being used to inform the drafts of the social studies standards, the frameworks, and other supporting materials.

Standards Development and Feedback Phases

Beginning in the summer of 2021 and through the spring of 2022, RIDE, RIHSSAC's Standards Development and Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Education Committees, and consultants from the Region 2 Comprehensive Center (R2CC) have worked to develop new standards for Rhode Island. RIDE is in the process of preparing the standards and developing parts of the frameworks for public feedback in the fall of 2022. Revisions will be made based on the feedback with the final draft presented to the Council on Elementary & Secondary Education for endorsement during the winter.

The public feedback period will be announced on the RIDE website, in the RIDE Field Memo, and the Social Studies Newsletter .

Following endorsement by the Council, the final standards and frameworks will be published to the RIDE website in early 2023. RIDE, with help from the RIHSSAC, will then work on reviewing and creating a list of recommended quality curriculum materials to complement the standards that will be published to the website in early 2024.

Questions about this project can be emailed to: Social Studies

Stay informed about social studies – related information through the new Rhode Island Social Studies Newsletter. The first issue of the newsletter will be October 6 2022, and will be published once a month. Newsletter entries will include professional learning opportunities, conference announcements, open-source teaching resources, information to join academic competitions, enrichment ideas, opportunities to share with students, and other items that are specific to Social Studies or related disciplines.

Questions can be directed to: Social Studies