Social Studies

After receiving feedback and insight from educators in Tennessee and reviewing national exemplars in social studies education and two sets of draft standards, the State Board of Education approved on second read the new social studies standards on July 26, 2013. These standards were implemented in the 2014-15 school year. Teachers with a history 7-12 endorsement or a geography 7-12 endorsement are qualified to teach both the U.S. history and geography course and world history and geography course.

K-8 Standards

The State Board of Education (SBE) has the authority to adopt academic standards for each subject area in grades K-12. Click on the course title/ grade level to view a description of the course and the standards adopted by the SBE.

High School Standards (Required & Elective)

The SBE sets the requirements for high school graduation. Per SBE Rule,students must achieve three high school level units of Social Studies in order to graduate with a high school diploma. Course content must include United States History and Geography, World History and Geography, Economics, and Government. View a list of the courses required for high school graduation.

Advanced Placement

Literacy Standards

Tennessee’s state standards for English language arts (ELA) includes a subset of literacy standards for teachers of history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. These literacy standards do not change the subject-area content, which will continue to be governed by Tennessee standards for each subject. Rather, the literacy standards provide expectations for how students will read and write in those courses. By incorporating more reading of complex informational text, holding students accountable to that reading through text-based discussion and giving students text-based argumentative and expository writing assignments, teachers will do the following:

  • Support school-wide literacy efforts;
  • Help prepare students for the literacy demands they will face in college and career, including the specialized reading and writing procedures of the relevant discipline; and
  • Reinforce students’ learning of subject-area content.

View the literacy standards for Social Studies.


Tennessee's social studies standards are the result of looking to the best social studies standards in the nation. The academic standards of Massachusetts, California, Washington D.C., Alabama, Virginia, the American Psychological Association and others served as a model for Tennessee's revisions. The final product is heavily indebted to the exemplary work of source states and organizations. Educators in Tennessee were involved in the writing and revisions of the standards throughout the process. Their feedback was instrumental in the development of the new standards.

  • Alabama State Department of Education
  • American Psychological Association
  • California Department of Education
  • Connecticut State Department of Education
  • District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Georgia Department of Education
  • Indiana Department of Education
  • Massachusetts Department of Education
  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education
  • South Carolina Department of Education
  • Texas Education Agency
  • Virginia Department of Education
  • National Geographic Society
  • Tennessee History for Kids
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • Australian Government: Geoscience Australia and Australian Indigenous cultural heritage website
  • Tennessee, A Short History by Robert Ewing Corlew, Stanley John Folmsbee, and Enoch L. Mitchell, University of Tennessee Press
  • Tennessee through Time by Carole Stanford Bucy, Gibbs Smith Publishers
  • Library of Congress
  • Cengage Learning World Civilizations Resource Center
  • Tennessee’s State English Language Arts and Literacy Standards
  • Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Tennessee Historical Society the University of Tennessee Press
  • Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Southern Regional Education Board
2014-15 Social Studies Assessment Transition Plan

The State Board of Education approved an assessment transition plan for social studies for the 2014-15 school year. There will be a field test in 2014-15, and operational social studies testing will resume in the 2015-16 school year.

More information about the field test will be released in the coming months, but as with other pilots, the results of the field test will not be reported to students and will not affect students’ grades. Information on the design of the 2015-16 Social Studies TCAP operational assessment will be available this fall.

Read the entire plan for more information about the transition to the new assessments. For questions, please contact

Instructional Resources

Curricular resources related to the Literacy Standards for social studies are  available here.

Archived materials from TNCore are  available here.

Online Resources

Tennessee History Online Learning Module

In partnership with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Tennessee’s affiliate stations, the department has developed a series of short online learning tools for educators. The professional learning tools in the Tennessee History Online Learning Module are available from PBS Learning Media.This online tool focuses on Tennessee History instruction for Tennessee State Standards.