From the Possibilities of Pedagogy forum of the May 2012 issue of Perspectives on History
The California History-Social Science Project
Nancy McTygue, May 2012
The California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) is a K–16 collaborative of historians, teachers, and affiliated scholars dedicated to the pursuit of educational excellence in history and social science. The organization exists to improve and advocate for history education, promote teacher development, and facilitate leadership opportunities.
The first CHSSP program was held in 1989 at UCLA, following the creation of the California Subject Matter Projects (CSMP) in 1988. Regional sites were operating by 1991 and today CHSSP sites can be found on six campuses across California: University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis; California State University Fresno; University of California, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach & Dominguez Hills; and University of California, Irvine. The network's statewide office is housed in the department of history at UC Davis. Each site (and the statewide office) benefit from the active engagement of university historians, who serve as faculty advisers, help lead programs, share resources, and give a variety of presentations each year.
Dedicated to increasing the achievement of all students, the CHSSP employs a research-based approach which focuses on standards-aligned content, historical thinking, and academic literacy. Each year, scholars and teachers work collaboratively to design, implement, evaluate, and refine professional development programs, develop resources, and advocate for the discipline. On average, the CHSSP network serves more than 2,200 teachers from nearly 900 schools each year.
The CHSSP has been an active member of the Teaching American History (TAH) collective, serving as the higher education partner on more than 40 TAH grants with local schools since 2002. In addition, the network is one of 28 members in the Library of Congress' Teaching with Primary Sources consortium and is one of nine disciplinary networks that make up the California Subject Matter Projects, administered by the University of California, Office of the President.
In addition to their ongoing work in local California schools, the CHSSP has expanded their efforts to push back against the marginalization of history in K–12 education. In 2008, the network convened the first of three "History Summits" to both increase awareness about the reduction in hours dedicated to history instruction and to marshal forces to reverse that trend. In 2011, the network launched the History Blueprint initiative, a comprehensive curriculum development, assessment, literacy, and professional development program designed to improve classroom instruction, student learning, and literacy.
Nancy McTygue is the executive director of the CHSSP.