A Social Studies Program Backed by Research

NCLB Research

NCLB Implications for Social Studies
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation was a landmark in educational reform designed to improve student achievement and create a fundamental shift in American education.

Facts about NCLB
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) calls for sweeping educational reform, requiring all students to achieve adequate yearly progress (AYP) and ultimately perform proficiently on standardized tests in reading, mathematics, and science by the year 2014. Under NCLB, schools will be held accountable for students' academic progress. In exchange for this accountability, the law offers more flexibility to individual states and school districts to decide how best to use federal education funds. NCLB places an emphasis on implementing scientifically proven methods in teaching reading and mathematics, and promotes teacher quality. It also offers parental choice for students in failing schools.

Effects on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
Since the primary focus of NCLB is on raising the achievement of students in reading and mathematics, some educators have wondered how it relates to social studies. Some teachers have expressed concerns that since NCLB does not require yearly testing of social studies, state and school districts may decide to shift resources and class time away from teaching social studies. However, NCLB considers the social studies areas of history, geography, economics, and government and civics to be core academic subjects. Many states are requiring middle grades social studies teachers to be highly qualified in history and geography in order to comply with the principle of improving teacher quality in NCLB.

NCLB sets the goal of having every child meet state-defined education standards. Since social studies educators have been leaders in the development of standards-based education and accountability through student testing over the past decade, many state and local districts have their own standards and assessments for social studies already in place. Assessment, including screening, diagnostic, progress-monitoring—including end-of-year, end-of-schooling, grade level, district, and state testing—and large-scale assessments, will continue to play a significant role in shaping social studies curriculum and instruction in the near future.

Integrating Reading into Social Studies Instruction
Due to the increased emphasis on reading and mathematics required by NCLB, social studies teachers may be called on to help improve their students' reading and math skills. For example, a teacher might use a graph about exports and imports to reinforce math skills, or a primary source about a historical event to improve reading skills. The connection between reading and social studies is especially important. Since many state and local assessments of reading require students to read and interpret informational texts, social studies passages are often used in the exams. Therefore, social studies teachers may assist in raising reading scores by integrating reading instruction into their teaching of social studies content.

Implications for Instructional Programs
The environment created by the NCLB legislation has implications for instructional programs. In keeping with the spirit of NCLB, social studies programs should clearly tie their content to state and local standards. Programs should also provide support so that all students can master these standards, ensuring that no child is left behind. An ideal instructional program is rooted in research, embeds reading instruction into the instructional design, and provides assessment tools that inform instruction—helping teachers focus on improving student performance.

Prentice Hall's Response
We realize that raising the achievement level of all students is the number one challenge facing teachers today. To assist you in meeting this challenge, Prentice Hall enlisted a team of respected authors and consultants who specialize in middle grades issues, reading in the content areas, and geographic education.

With Prentice Hall, you can be confident that your students will not only be motivated, inspired, and excited to learn world studies, but they will also achieve the success needed in today's environment of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation and testing reform.

Our Research Philosophy

In developing our books, the use of research studies is a central, guiding element. Research indicated key elements of a social studies textbook program that ensure students success: support for reading, differentiated instruction, geographic literacy development, and an ongoing assessment strand. This research was conducted in several phases and continues today.

  1. Exploratory Needs Assessment Research
    Along with periodic surveys concerning curriculum issues and challenges, we conducted specific product development research, which included discussions with teachers and advisory panels, focus groups, and quantitative surveys. We explored the specific needs of teachers, students, and other educators regarding the program we developed.
  2. Research Base Underlying the Program
    During this phase of research, we identified essential components of successful social studies teaching and learning.
  3. Formative Research During Program Development
    During this phase, we worked to develop prototype materials. Then we tested the materials with qualitative and quantitative evaluations, including comments from content area specialists, administrators, teachers, and other reviewers. We received feedback about our instructional design in our early prototype testing. Results were channeled back into program development for improvement.
  4. Ongoing Research on Program Effectiveness
    This phase of research asks the question, "Does the program really work?" It involves monitoring the program in the market over one or more years. We talk to our users about what works, and what can be improved, and then we begin the cycle over again.

Research/Best Practices

Prentice Hall Response


Developing and implementing a standards-based curriculum that is aligned with assessment leads to greater student achievement.

Marzano, R.J. 2000.

A New Era of School Reform: Going Where the Research Takes Us.

We started with a detailed review of national and state standards to ensure that the program offers complete standards coverage. We then designed our assessments to test this standards-based curriculum. Assessments provide specific information for each question so that teachers can see which objective/standard is being covered and get information about how to remediate.

In social studies classrooms today, there is an emphasis on genuine understanding of historical events, not just acquisition and memorization of facts. Students are learning about broad themes and ideas that have been pervasive throughout history.

Trends in K-12 Social Studies. ERIC Digest ED351278.

The American Issues Connector helps students track key standards-based themes across time and place creating a framework to connect new information to what students already know. The American Issues Connector Worksheets allow students to take notes in an on-going fashion that will help prepare them for thematic essays on high-stakes assessment.

In the past, it was common practice to teach a lesson, administer a test, grade it, and move on. Today, we know that continuous assessment of student progress with immediate intervention contributes to high performance.

Just for the Kids. 2001. "Promising Practices: How High-Performing Schools in Texas Get Results."

Prentice Hall World History helps you use data-driven assessment to inform teaching, pointing your students toward excellence in social studies.

1. Diagnose readiness through initial assessment with AYP Monitoring Assessments. In addition, this booklet offers a full year of benchmark tests with remediation suggestions for continuous assessment.

2.Track understanding with Progress Monitoring Transparencies and the MindPoint Quiz Show CD-ROM. Progress Monitoring Online allows students to track their own progress before moving on to the next topic. Assess progress, report results, and prescribe remediation using the ExamView Test Bank CD-ROM.

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction is based upon the idea that not all students learn in the same manner nor have the same abilities. To that end, teachers need options so that all learners work toward the essential understandings and skills, but use different content, processes, and products to get there.

Tomlinson, C. A. 2001.

How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms.

Prentice Hall has provided multiple options for teachers to modify instruction to accommodate all learning styles from special needs students to advanced learners. Differentiated Instruction resources such as: Reading and Note Taking Study Guides (On-level, Adapted, and Spanish); audio, video, and online ways to access content; multiple levels of worksheets; and the ExamView Test Bank that offers leveled tests, all help to meet the individual needs of today's students. Additionally, Professional Development and specific teaching suggestions and activities in the Teacher's Edition help teachers provide multiple pathways to content for students.

Using effective teaching methods and providing explicit instruction on reading strategies and vocabulary development at each stage of instruction helps not only students with special needs, ESOL, and less proficient readers, but on-level and gifted students as well.

Scott Baker and Russell Gersten. "What We Know about Effective Instructional Practices for English Language Learners." 2000

Prentice Hall World History provides an integrated system of reading and vocabulary development that seamlessly supports history instruction for all levels of students, such as:

—Note Taking graphic organizers keep students on track as they read each section.

—Social studies terms and high-use academic words are taught in each section, and are reinforced with the Vocabulary Builder online.

—Embedded Checkpoint questions ensure comprehension before students move on.

Development of a systematic approach to enhancing learning through writing in the social studies is beneficial. Research shows that students who write frequently had higher achievement levels. This finding, along with evidence that critical thinking skills are nurtured by appropriate writing assignments, makes a powerful case for increasing the amount of student writing in the social studies.

Improving Writing Skills through Social Studies. ERIC Digest No. 40. The secret to building writing skills is scaffolded writing instruction and practice. Hart, Diane. 2002. Writing for Social Studies Assessment.

Prentice Hall World History offers frequent opportunities for students to write about the content they are learning, by providing writing prompts in every section and chapter assessment. The program delivers a systematic approach to writing that builds students' skills through scaffolding by increasing complexity at each stage of instruction.

—Skills Handbook - Introduces writing skills at the beginning of the Student Edition.

—Section-level Assessments - Reviews basic writing skills through simple prompts using history content students have learned.

—Chapter Assignments - Builds upon these basic skills to offer complex writing assignments such as persuasive and expository essays, with step-by-step scaffolding.

Taking notes increases student comprehension, retention, and test scores. Generalizations of the research include:

—Verbatim note taking is the least effective way to take notes

—Notes should be considered a work in progress

—Notes should be used as study guides for tests

—The more notes that are taken the better

Marzano, et al. Classroom Instruction that Works. 2001 pp. 43–48

Prentice Hall World History offers a complete note taking system. Each section of the text provides students with a reading strategy and a graphic organizer for taking notes as they read. Graphic organizers are also available at full size for student use and on transparency in completed form. The Teaching Resources contain blank graphic organizers that teachers use to model note taking skills.

Note: The Reading and Note Taking Study Guide (On-level, Adapted, and Spanish versions) is also available.

Studies indicate that students in "technology-rich environments" experience increased achievement in all major subject areas.

Adapted from: Edgar Dale Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching Dryden Press.

Prentice Hall's integrated technology products not only help students become active learners, they also provide options for delivering essential content to today's diverse learners. The program offers:

—Witness History DVD Special Features Edition with four tracks of audio to support all students.

—PresentationEXPRESS CD-ROM that provides ready-made PowerPoint presentations for teachers.

—Witness History Audio CD that extends and enriches the narrative of the Student Edition.

—StudentEXPRESS with Interactive Textbook CD-ROM that offers Geography Interactive dynamic map skills practice and History Interactive multimedia animations that help students explore key events.