Content Knowledge

Browse | Search | Lesson Plans
Purpose | History | Process | Acknowledgment | Reference



The following process was used to identify standards and benchmarks for economics:

Identification of Significant Reports

Six reports were selected to assist in the identification of standards and benchmarks in economics. Two reports were published by the EconomicsAmerica: National Council on Economic Education (NCEE): Voluntary National Content Standards (1997), and A Framework for Teaching Basic Economic Concepts with Scope and Sequence Guidelines, K12 (Saunders & Gilliard, 1995). The Joint Council on Economic Education produced Economics, What and When: Scope and Sequence Guidelines, K12 (Gilliard et al., 1989), One report was authored by the Colorado Council on Economic Education, Conceptual Content Standards: Grades K12 (1994); another by the National Council for the Social Studies, Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (1994). Finally, supporting citations were developed from the International Baccalaureate Organisation's Economics (1996e).

Selection of the Reference Document

The NCEE's recently issued Voluntary National Content Standards was selected as the reference document. This work has content similar to A Framework for Teaching Basic Economic Concepts, the work that was used as the reference document in the previous edition of this report.

Identification of Standards and Benchmarks

The Voluntary National Content Standards work was useful for identifying benchmarks. The NCEE document identifies what students should know about economics at the end of 4th, 8th, and 12th grades. The source material is written such that the smallest organizational unit, which is termed a benchmark, is at the level of generality that is equivalent to what we term a benchmark. Thus, it was not difficult to determine what information was appropriate for identifying content at this level.

In some respects the reference document was not entirely compatible with our model for standards identification. The reference document arranges content statements under 21 topic areas, which we found somewhat too narrow in scope to be useful as standards for organizing benchmark information articulated across grades K12. Inasmuch as we consider the benchmark (as well as the grade sequence of benchmarks) to provide critical subject information, but view the organization of benchmarks into standards as arbitrary to some degree (see "Process"), we elected to consolidate some material under slightly larger ideas in order to provide a more even distribution of benchmarks across standards. This reorganization was done through consulting the supplementary documents (see below). Finally, there were differences between the reference document and our model in the grade ranges provided. The reference document provides content information at three levels of schooling, K4, 58, and 912; we prefer four: primary, upper elementary, middle, and high school. We were able to provide benchmarks at all four levels through the use of the supplementary material discussed below.

Integration of Information from Other Documents

Material from JCEE, Economics, What and When: Scope and Sequence Guidelines, K12, was useful for constructing benchmarks at the four levels our model adopts (primary, elementary, middle, and high school), since the document presents content material at two-grade increments from K1 through grades 1112. The document also was found useful for the examples it provided to help clarify content statements. Additionally, each statement of content in Scope and Sequence is accompanied by "student language" -- a version of the concept or generalization written in terms more accessible to students at the targeted grade levels. This language provided us with the means for composing benchmarks that were still accurate if somewhat less technical. Draft material from the Colorado Council for Economic Education (CCE) also provided guidance in writing benchmark statements. The CCE draft was found useful for the organization of benchmark statements into standards as well; some seven of our ten standards are closely modeled on that document. As is the case with all our supplementary documents, benchmarks include page number citations to the CCE document wherever similar content material has been identified.

Finally, the original reference work, A Framework for Teaching Basic Economic Concepts, has been cited at each benchmark wherever appropriate, so that users of the economics standards will be able to find supporting teaching materials. Similarly, the National Council for the Social Studies' Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies has also been cited at the benchmark level so that users of the NCSS document are provided with a link to related economics content. Additionally, the citations just described, along with those from the CCE draft and the International Baccalaureate's work Economics might prove useful to those who desire additional criteria for selecting a subset of benchmarks from the economics standards.