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Social Studies FAQ

The responses presented below are provided to address frequently asked questions related to Social Studies education in New York State.

  1. Where can I find information about the new Regents Exam aligned to the NYS K-12 Social Studies Framework? 

    ​​The Framework has been fully implemented in all courses.  Information about the new Regents Exam can be found at:  Office of State Assessment Social Studies.   

  2. Can a school replace the Participation in Government and Economics courses with either Advanced Placement (AP) Government or AP Economics courses? 

    AP courses in government may be an equivalent alternative to the Participation in Government course; AP courses in economics may be an equivalent alternative to Economics and Economic Decision Making. Although the Board of Regents sets the Learning Standards, all curriculum choices remain local control. Equivalency is approved by the local public-school superintendent or his or her designee or by the chief administrative officer of a registered nonpublic high school.  

  3. Can a school replace the Global History and Geography and/or United States History and Government Regents requirement with Advanced Placement (AP) exams? 

Yes.  New York State Department of Education has created an “Approved Alternative Examinations Acceptable for Meeting Requirements for a Local or Regents Diploma” list.  The following are acceptable replacements for social studies: 

Global History and Geography Regents may be replaced with a score of 3 on the AP World History Examination 

United States History and Government Regents may be replaced with a score of 3 on the AP United States History Examination OR a score of 560 on the SAT Subject Test in United States History.  In addition to achieving the established SAT score of 560, students must complete a multi-source, in-depth research project that demonstrates the ability to use primary and secondary sources. 

  1. Can 8th grade students take the United States History and Government Regents Exam?  

    ​Yes. Students may be accelerated in a commencement-level social studies course in Grade 8 [100.4(c)] if they meet local criteria set by the school district and/or the State Education Department. This course must culminate in a Regents examination in social studies at the conclusion of Grade 8. 

  2. Where can I find information about the Seal of Civic Readiness? 

​Information about this initiative is located on our Civic Readiness Initiative website. 

Standards and NYS K-12 Framework

What is the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework? 

The Framework is the guide for local curriculum development in social studies. It fuses the New York State Learning Standards with social studies practices and content key ideas, conceptual understandings and content specifications. 

What are Social Studies Practices? 

The Social Studies Practices represent the social science and historical thinking skills that students should develop throughout their K-12 education in order to be prepared for civic participation, college, and careers. The Practices were created based on the existing New York State Social Studies Learning Standards, the National Geography Standards, the historical thinking skills articulated within the new Advanced Placement World History Curriculum Framework, the Disciplinary Tools of Dimension 2 of the C3 Framework, National Council for the Social Studies Standards, and Habits of the Mind published by the National Council for History Education. Social Studies Practices are identified for each of the grades K-8, and then for the high school, and are found in the Framework documents. These practices are organized under the following headings: 

1) Gathering, Interpreting and Using Evidence 

2) Chronological Reasoning and Causation 

3) Comparison and Contextualization 

4) Geographic Reasoning 

5) Economics and Economic Systems 

6) Civic Participation 

What are Key Ideas in Social Studies?  

Key Ideas are aligned to the standards and represent enduring understandings that should be the focus of teaching and learning for each grade. Key Ideas are designed to address larger social studies perspectives, trends, and issues. 

What are Conceptual Understandings in Social Studies? 
Conceptual Understandings are more specific statements designed to support each Key Idea. Each Key Idea is comprised of approximately two to seven conceptual understandings that are designed to support the larger Key Idea. Together, the Key Ideas and Conceptual Understandings represent the body of Social Studies concepts that should be the focus of teaching and learning. 

What are Content Specifications in Social Studies? 
Content specifications, crafted as “Students will…” statements, add further clarity and depth to the Conceptual Understanding by articulating specific content that can be taught to illuminate the Conceptual Understanding. 

Instructional Resources

What social studies textbooks or instructional materials would you recommend? 

New York is a “non-adoption” state. The New York State Education Department cannot recommend a particular textbook, piece of software, instructional resource, etc. School districts have the flexibility and responsibility to identify appropriate content and resources to implement instruction aligned to the NYS K-12 Social Studies Framework

What is the Social Studies Field Guide? 

This document was written to help illustrate the Instructional Shifts that help to implement the NYS K-12 Framework. It explains these shifts and then uses the example of Reconstruction to illustrate how these shifts can be implemented. It can be found at Social Studies K-12 Field Guide 

What is the Resource Toolkit? 

The Resource Toolkit is a series of Inquiries, developed by New York State teachers, aligned to the Framework and using the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). The Toolkit resources, including Inquiries, conceptual foundations, professional development resources and a video series are located at C3 NYS Teachers Resources(link is external). 

What is an Inquiry? 

Each Inquiry is more than a single lesson, but less than a unit. It may address an entire key idea or a portion of the key idea. An Inquiry can be adapted and modified by teachers; although they are identified by grade level, sources may be appropriate for use in other grades. 

Social Studies Regulations and Assessments

What are the regulations for social studies instruction? 

All students in New York State are required to receive social studies instruction at every grade level, prekindergarten – grade 12. According to the Part 100 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to General Education & Diploma Requirements this requirement includes: 

Prekindergarten and Kindergarten: instruction in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and the arts, including dance, music, theatre and visual arts; that is designed to facilitate student attainment of the State learning standards and is aligned with the instructional program in the early elementary grades. See Part 100.3(a)(3)(iii) 
Grades 1 – 4: all students shall receive instruction that is designed to facilitate their attainment of the State elementary learning standards in social studies, including geography and United States history. See Part 100.3(b)(1) (iii)
Grades 5 – 6: all students shall receive instruction that is designed to facilitate their attainment of the State intermediate learning standards in the seven general curriculum areas: social studies, including geography and United States history. See Part 100.4(b)(1)(iii) 
Grades 7 – 8: all students shall be provided instruction designed to enable them to achieve, by the end of grade eight, State intermediate learning standards through: social studies, two units of study. See Part 100.4(c)(1)(ii) 
High School: All students first entering grade nine in September 2016 and thereafter shall earn four units of credit in social studies. Such requirement shall include:

one unit of credit in American history;
one half unit of credit in participation in government and one half unit of credit in economics; and
two units of credit in global history and geography; or
the equivalent of clauses (a), (b) and/or (c) of this subparagraph, as approved by the local public school superintendent or his or her designee or by the chief administrative officer of a registered nonpublic high school. See Part 100.5(a)(6)(ii). 

What other requirements are in New York State Education Law related to social studies education? 

Periodically, the New York State Legislature passes laws that have a direct impact on social studies curriculum and instruction. These laws are summarized in the following Education Law: 


Section 801. Courses of instruction in patriotism and citizenship and in certain historic documents. 
Section 801a. Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education. 
Section 802. Instruction relating to the flag; holidays. 
Section 802a. Instruction relating to general elections. 

Which Regents Exams in Social Studies must a student pass to receive a high school diploma? 
Regents Exams are offered in Global History and Geography and United States History and Government. In order to receive a high school diploma, a student must pass 5 Regents Exams. The student MUST pass one Regents Exam in English, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies. Additionally, the student must pass an additional Regents Exam or approved Pathways Assessment.  

For information about Department-Approved Alternative examination see: Assessment Archives 
For information about Regents Exams in Social Studies see: Office of State Assessment Social Studies 

Other Common Questions

Which students may be admitted to January Social Studies Regents examinations? 

All students must complete their course of study before they are entitled to take a social studies Regents examination. Therefore, students who are completing their course of study in January or who have completed the course, albeit unsuccessfully, in a previous school year may take a social studies Regents examination in January. Schools may not administer January Regents Examinations to classes of students who are enrolled in a full year social studies course of study in Global History and Geography or U.S. History and Government. 

May a student earn high school credit in social studies prior to entering grade 9? 
Yes.  For more information, please visit our Middle Level webpage.