Abstract 2- Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008



Inequalities in History-Social Science Teaching under High-Stakes Accountability: Interviews with Fifth-Grade Teachers in California

Judith L. Pace
University of San Francisco


This article contributes new understanding to a small but critical body of research indicating that high-stakes testing in reading/language arts and mathematics is contributing to marginalization of social studies in the elementary school curriculum across the US. It provides evidence from interviews with fifth-grade teachers that the “squeeze” on history-social science occurs disproportionately in low-performing schools with large minority and low-income populations, where curricular mandates prevail. The interviews shed light on elementary teachers’ decision-making in history-social science and how it is influenced by state testing, local community pressures, as well as other influences. It indicates the need for more extensive qualitative study and concludes with a research design to guide future investigations.

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About the Author(s)…

Judith L. Pace is an Associate Professor in the Teacher Education Department at the University of San Francisco’s School of Education. Her research interests focus on classroom relations, curriculum, and pedagogy in history/social studies and English/language arts within the sociocultural and political contexts of schooling. Her publications include articles and chapters on classroom authority, academic engagement, and citizenship education, as well as two edited volumes: Classroom Authority: Theory, Research, and Practice (2006; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, with Annette Hemmings) and Educating Democratic Citizens in Troubled Times: Qualitative Studies of Current Efforts (in press; SUNY Press, with Janet Bixby). Contact information: pace@usfca.edu, University of San Francisco.