Psychology and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework

The C3 Framework provides states with recommendations to be used to revise their social studies standards and will be used to assess student learning for years to come.

In September 2013, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) published “The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: State Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography and History” (NCSS, 2013). The C3 Framework provides states with recommendations to be used to revise their social studies standards and will be used to assess student learning for years to come. The document is available online and includes an appendix on psychology skills and concepts.

Psychology and the other behavioral and social sciences (e.g., sociology and anthropology) were missing from the original draft of the document, which focused on civics, economics, geography and history as the four key social studies disciplines. Two important goals of APA are to promote the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula (APA, 2011) and to increase recognition of psychology as a science, per APA’s new strategic plan, but APA staff and Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) committee members were aware that being included in the C3 Framework would be strategically advantageous for securing and promoting psychology’s place in the high school curriculum.

Starting in late 2012, APA staff began a series of conversations with the C3 Framework Leadership Team on the role of the behavioral and social sciences and the C3 Framework. APA, along with the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the American Anthropological Association (AAA), were invited to participate in a C3 Framework Advisory Working Group of Behavioral and Social Science Professional Organizations, discussing the C3 Framework and its relevance to these disciplines. In early 2013, APA staff and Board of Educational Affairs member (and former TOPSS chair) Amy Fineburg, PhD, participated in a webinar with the Council of Chief State School Officers Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction (SSACI) collaborative, which represents over 20 states and had initiated the C3 document. During the webinar, staff and Fineburg shared information on APA’s national standards (PAA, 2011), Guidelines for Preparing High School Psychology Teachers: Course-Based and Standards-Based Approaches (APA, 2012), and other APA resources for psychology teachers.

In May 2013, APA staff and Jeanne Blakeslee, a former TOPSS chair, were invited to participate in a SSACI meeting to further discuss the C3 Framework and the behavioral and social sciences. At about that time, APA, ASA and AAA were each invited to develop companion documents that would link the behavioral and social sciences to the C3 Framework. An APA working group drafted a Psychology Companion Document for the C3 Framework, which was ultimately included in the C3 Framework as Appendix B. (Additional appendices on sociology and anthropology were also included.) The C3 Framework Leadership Team made several edits to the framework document itself based on feedback from APA and the TOPSS committee. This revised language introduced the social and behavioral sciences in the C3 Framework and added several references to these disciplines throughout the document.

Members of the sychology companion document writing team were Jeanne A. Blakeslee, St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.); Amy C. Fineburg, Oak Mountain High School (Ala.); Kenneth D. Keith, University of San Diego (Calif.); Debra E. Park, Rutgers University, Camden (N.J.); and Hilary Rosenthal, Glenbrook South High School (Ill.). Emily Leary Chesnes and Robin Hailstorks, PhD, from APA were staff liaisons.

The C3 Framework will join the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts and the Next Generation Science Standards as national guidelines for K-12 social studies, math, English language and science education. These national policy documents promote high-quality education and outline core concepts students are expected to learn at different grade levels. All focus on skills students need for academic or career success. We are pleased that the current efforts with the C3 Framework resulted in the inclusion of psychology in the document. The added appendix on psychology supports APA’s efforts to impress upon the states the importance and relevance of psychology at the high school level. It advances APA’s strategic plan by educating the public about psychology as a science.