Breaking Down the TEKS: Texas Social Studies Standards
By Kirsten Hammond
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It can be a little tricky navigating the many Texas social studies standards students need to learn. In this blog post, I will be breaking down the meaning of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (known as TEKS) for Grades 3-5!
When were the current TEKS Texas social studies standards implemented?
The current streamlined social studies TEKS for kindergarten-grade 5 were adopted in 2018, were effective on August 1, 2020, and were implemented in classrooms beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.
Introduction of the Texas Social Studies Standards
The TEKS Texas Social Studies Standards are a set of guidelines that outline what students should know and be able to do in social studies classes.
These standards cover a wide range of topics, from history and geography to economics and government.
Understanding the key concepts and themes of the Texas Social Studies Standards can help students and educators navigate this complex set of guidelines and ensure that students are receiving a comprehensive education in social studies.
Here are some main things to know about the TEKS standards:
- The first paragraph of the introduction gives an overview of concepts taught for each grade level. The focus of 3rd grade is individuals and heroes in communities, past and present; 4th grade focuses on Texas history; 5th grade focuses on the history of the United States from 1565 to present.
- Use a variety of materials to support the teaching of the essential knowledge and skills (songs, artwork, founding documents, biographies, etc.).
- The 8 social studies strands are integrated for instructional purposes.
- Keep in mind specific wording in each TEKS standard: “including” are concepts that MUST be taught, and “such as” are examples or suggestions of topics that could be taught, but are not mandatory.
- Celebrate Freedom Week is required to teach.
8 Domains of the Texas Social Studies Standards
Each domain covers a specific set of topics and skills that students should master in order to be proficient in social studies.
Here’s a look at each of the 8 strands or domains outlined in the TEKS. This is featured in all grade levels from K-12.
A chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes.
A description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth’s surface.
A description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
A system of rules and the people who make and administer them.
Everything that has to do with being a citizen, or full member, of a country.
A pattern of behavior shared by a society, or group of people.
Science, Technology, and Society
This discusses the impact of science and technology on a society.
Social Studies Skills
These are critical-thinking skills to organize and use information from a variety of sources.
Social Studies STAAR Testing
In Texas, students are not assessed through standardized testing until 8th grade.
While 3rd-5th grade lays the foundation for communities around the world, Texas history, and U.S. history, 6th grade focuses on contemporary world cultures, 7th grade focuses on Texas history, and 8th grade focuses on U.S history.
Are the TEKS changing again?
The current Texas social studies standards is the one adopted in 2018. In November 2022, the SBOE gave final approval to revisions to the social studies TEKS for K-12th grade.
The revised TEKS will be effective on August 1, 2024 and implemented beginning 2024-2025 school year.
You can find the specific skills for TEKS social studies (K-5) here.
If you’re looking for engaging and quality social studies resources for Grades 3-5 that align to TEKS standards, click here to learn more about the Smart and Simple Social Studies Membership!
Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.