State Minimum Standards in Geography are under Review

Aug 26, 2013 by

Hello fellow geographers,

As you may know, the State Board is currently reviewing the minimum standards 
for the state of New Hampshire.  The State Board heard testimony on the proposed 
changes to the Minimum Standards on Monday, August 19.   

Current Minimum Standards in New Hampshire Social Studies ed306.46

(4) Courses totaling at least 5 credits in social studies comprised of offerings 
in each of the
following areas:
a. At least one credit in national and state history pursuant to RSA 189:11;
b. At least one credit in world history or global studies;
c. At least one credit in geography;
d. At least ½ credit in United States and New Hampshire government/civics;
e. At least ½ credit in economics; and
f. At least one credit, which may be interdisciplinary or integrated, to be 
chosen from
the areas of geography, economics, world history, civics/government, state or 
national
history or both, or behavioral studies; and
Adopted 12-14-2011 Effective 12-17-2011 60
(5) Systematic instruction and activities designed to enable students to acquire 
the skills of
critical thinking, effective decision making, and human relations.

**Note that while under 306.27 the student must pass one-half credit of World 
History or Global Studies or Geography to graduate, the school must offer one 
full credit of World History or Global Studies, and one full credit of Geography 
during the student’s course of study.  As it currently stands schools are 
required to offer a full credit of Geography but students are not required to 
take for graduation.  

	Geography is a subject that is recognized nationally as one of the ten “core 
academic subjects” under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Geography 
is a vital course that teaches much more than where places are, but how society 
is connected to the world in which we live.  The discipline offers a spatial 
perspective about not only where things are, but why they are there.  It teaches 
problem solving as students perform location analysis and determine the best 
location for sites such as business, energy plants, evacuation routes, and much 
more.   Geography is critical to developing informed citizens that are prepared 
for an increasingly global society.   With the advent of geospatial 
technologies, the field is one of the fastest growing in the United States in 
the jobs sector.   Not giving the students of the New Hampshire the opportunity 
to take Geography is not preparing them to be successful members of society that 
understand the community they live in, both local and global.  Students need 
both the temporal perspective of World History and the spatial perspective 
offered in Geography. We need to ensure that Geography will continue to be 
offered to students in New Hampshire High Schools.

Revised recommendations currently before the State Board of Education
(a)	For Social Studies Education Programs in grades 9-12, schools shall 
additionally provide:
(1)	 Courses comprising offerings in  the following elective competency areas:
a.	One half-credit of World History
b.	One half-credit of Geography or Global Studies
c.	One half credit of the behavioral sciences: sociology, anthropology or 
psychology; or of philosophy
(2)	 Personal Finance shall be a required component of the Economics course used 
for graduation, and competencies in Personal Finance shall be required therein. 

These revised recommendations would not increase the number of credits required 
of students to graduate, but would better align the minimum standards required 
of students for graduation, and what schools are required to offer.  It would 
also ensure that every student is given the opportunity to take geography.

There will be a second public hearing at Lin-Wood Elementary School, 72 Linwood 
Drive, Lincoln, NH on September 9th. There is also the opportunity for the 
public to input testimony electronically at www.education.nh.gov/legislation/ed306review.htm 
. This will continue through September 13, 2013.

Please take a moment of your time to give your input to the State Board of 
Education as they make their decision regarding the changes in the state minimum 
standards.

Lara Bryant, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Keene State College
New Hampshire Geographic Alliance Coordinator

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