DC: Twelfth Grade Standards
(Note: In 2011, DC public schools began transitioning to the Common Core State Standards.)
District of Columbia History and Government
Early Settlement and Geography
Students identify and locate on a map the principal topographical features of the original federal district and surrounding area.
Students describe the early Native American and English settlements that were established during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Students explain how and when Africans came to the Chesapeake and Potomac Region, why a significant number of them were free, the roles they played in the development of the agrarian economy (e.g., tobacco), and how slavery developed as an institution in the region.
A New National Capital and a New City
Students explain the establishment of the new capital.
- Describe the geographic and political reasons for the permanent location of the national capital.
- Describe major provisions of the Residence Act of 1790.
- Outline the roles of Pierre L’Enfant, Andrew Ellicott, and Benjamin Banneker in planning, surveying, and mapping the site of the new capital.
- Explain initial political jurisdictions in the District neighborhoods within Washington City.
Students describe the nation’s capital during the early 19th century.
- Explain how the city government operated under Mayor Brent.
- Describe how the home rule charters of 1802, 1812, and 1820 gave District residents a voice in their local government.
- Describe cultural and commercial life, and outline the demand for specific skills and trades that attracted people from other colonies to Washington, DC.
- Explain the impact of the War of 1812.
- Trace the origins and ultimate failure of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
- Explain retrocession (or return) of the territory that had been ceded for the federal district in 1790 by the state of Virginia.
Slavery, War, and Emancipation
Students describe and explain the effect of mid-19th-century efforts to abolish slavery. 1. Analyze the abolition movement in Washington, DC.
- Using a map, trace the Underground Railroad.
- Analyze the abolition movement in Washington, DC.
- Describe the provision of the Compromise of 1850 that outlawed the slave trade in Washington, DC.
- Debate Washington, DC’s new Black Code.
- Explain the Snow Riots, the Pearl Affair, and incidents of fear and violence triggered by mounting tensions over slavery.
Students describe the effect the Civil War had on life in Washington, DC, and they explain the effects of Compensated Emancipation and the Emancipation Proclamation on the city.
- Describe how the Union Army transformed the city into an armed camp.
- Describe the conflicting loyalties of people living in the city.
- On a map, trace the creation of a ring of forts to defend the city.
- Explain the participation of white and black residents in the Union and Confederate armies.
- Explain how the city responded to the problems that accompanied the sudden surge of population (e.g., soldiers and escaping slaves).
- Describe the emancipation by compensation of slaves owned by residents of Washington, DC, and the emancipation of slaves in the Confederacy.
Students describe the era of Reconstruction in Washington, DC.
- Describe the Freedman’s Bureau.
- Explain the civil rights advancements.
- List and identify achievements of African American leaders, such as Francis Cardozo, Frederick Douglass, John Mercer Langston, and James Wormley.
- Trace the expansion of public education.
- Explain the appearance of Howard University (1867) as a multiracial, coeducational university.
Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries
Students explain the major developments during the period of the District’s territorial government, established by Congress in 1871.
- Describe the work of the new Board of Health, also created in 1871.
- Outline the strengths and weaknesses of the ambitious public works program spearheaded by Alexander Shepherd.
- Explain why and how Congress ended home rule for the District of Columbia in 1874.
- Describe the major provisions of the Organic Act of 1878.
- Explain how the District was governed by commissioners.
Students compare the employment (e.g., skilled and unskilled trades, entrepreneurs) and educational opportunities (e.g., elementary through postsecondary training) for white and black Washingtonians.
- Describe how segregation and discrimination limited opportunities for African Americans.
- Describe disturbances resulting from racial tensions.
- Explain how African American leaders resisted discrimination.
- Outline the role that churches played in the lives of African American Washingtonians.
Students explain how Washington, DC’s population grew and became more diverse with the infusion of immigrant minorities.
- Identify key migratory waves that have occurred during the 20th century.
- Explain how political, social, and cultural institutions have arisen over the years to respond to their needs and preferences.
- Compare the development of Hispanic immigrant neighborhoods to that of historically African American sections of the City (e.g., Adams Morgan and the “U” Street Corridor).
Students identify the political and cultural achievements of African Americans living and working in Washington, DC.
- Identify some of the African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance who were born or lived in Washington, DC.
- Describe the New Negro Alliance and the tactics they used to fight discrimination and segregation.
Students describe what Washingtonians did for amusement and recreation during the 1920s and 1930s.
- Identify the three professional ball teams: The Homestead Grays, The Washington Senators, and the Washington Redskins.
- Using a map, locate the various parks and playgrounds around the city.
- Identify what movies and radio shows were popular during this period of time.
20th Century Expansion and Urban Challenges
Students describe the historical developments in Washington, DC, during the first half of the 20th century.
- Explain how World War I, the New Deal, and World War II created dramatic increases in the District’s population.
- Describe the effects of housing shortages, lack of decent housing for low-income residents, and overcrowding in African American neighborhoods, as well as the remedies developed to address these problems.
- Assess the relationships between advancements in transportation technology and the growth of the city and neighborhood development, including the effects of the electric streetcar.
- Identify the important geographic features of the city, including quadrants; naming patterns for streets, avenues, and roads; parks and circles; and major corridors and neighborhoods.
- Describe how the commissioner form of government responded to municipal problems, and explain why and how citizens expressed their dissatisfaction with this government.
Civil Rights and Home-Rule Victories
Students describe efforts to overcome discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, and education in the District (examine the National Committee on Segregation), and explain the local and national effects of these efforts.
Students identify key milestones and efforts that led to greater self-government and suffrage for Washington, DC, residents.
- Key Milestones: opposition of the Southwest Civic Association and the local NAACP to urban renewal in Southwest Washington (1950); the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1961); the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis (1962); the Free DC movement (1966); the Model Inner City Community Development Organization (1966); President Lyndon Johnson’s reorganization of the District government, establishing the appointed offices of mayor and council members (1967); the elected school board for the District (1968); the Statehood Movement (1969); the elected nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives from Washington, DC (1971); the defeat of Congressman John Macmillan of South Carolina and a new chair, Charles Diggs of Michigan, for the House District Committee (1972); the Home Rule Act of 1973 passed by Congress and signed by President Richard Nixon; the approval of Home-Rule Charter by Washington, DC, citizens and election of the city’s first local government in more than 100 years (1974); the proposed constitutional amendment to give Washington, DC, congressional representation that was passed by Congress and sent to the states (1978).
Students identify key people who were civic and political leaders in Washington, DC, during the second half of the 20th century (e.g., Marion Barry, Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, Marvin Caplan, Nelson A. Castillo, Dave Clark, A. Powell Davies, Jane Delgado, Walter Fauntroy, Julius Hobson, E. Franklin Jackson, Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Janet Murguía, Eleanor Homes Norton, Delia Pompa, Joseph Rauh, Carlos Rosario, Polly Shackleton, Carl Shipley, Saul Solórzano, Sterling Tucker, Walter Washington, and John Wilson).
Addressing Opportunities and Problems Under Home Rules
Students explain how the new government addressed the issues facing the city. They understand the executive and legislative powers of the new home-rule government and how the new government addressed the following: crime, economic development, health, housing, planning, poverty, and transportation.
Students describe both the dramatic changes in the District’s population that occurred in the late 20th century and the effects of these changes.
- Explain the exodus of middle-class families from the District and its impact.
- Describe how the influx of immigrants from Central America, Asia, and Africa has made the city a multicultural center.
Students identify the causes of the city’s financial crisis in the mid 1990s, describe how both the city and Congress responded to it, and explain the factors that made the city’s economic recovery possible.
Students identify the mayors that have been elected under the city’s Home Rule Charter, and they describe both the accomplishments and shortcomings of each administration.
Students analyze issues critical to the future of the city.
- Explain the tension between gentrification and the interests of long-term residents.
- Describe and debate whether the city should plan for an increase in population and density to accommodate new residents.
- Describe how such regional issues as transportation, water and air quality, and homeland security affect the city.
- Describe if and how the city can use economic development to address significant unemployment among Washington, DC, residents.
- Explain the challenges and opportunities that are unique to the status of Washington, DC, as an international political and economic capital.
- Review the reasons why Washington, DC, residents do not have voting representation in Congress, and assess the prospects for current efforts to get congressional representation for the District.
Students explain the relationship between the federal government and the District of Columbia as defined by Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution and the unique budgetary, legislative, and financial constraints placed on the District government by the U.S. Congress.
Students identify the major provisions of the District’s Home Rule Charter, and they explain the roles and responsibilities of the three branches of the District government, as well as the Board of Education.
- Describe how the work of the executive branch of the District government affects the lives of District residents.
- Explain the role of local courts and their relationship to other branches of government, using recent cases as examples.
- Explain how laws are made in the District of Columbia, using recently passed legislation as examples.
- Explain the role of the Board of Education in setting the educational policy and school funding.
Students describe how they can participate in the governmental process of the District of Columbia.
- Describe the District’s budget and its significance, including how citizens can participate in the budget process and how the District government uses taxing and spending decisions to further government policies.
- Identify the city’s major political parties, and describe the role of political parties in Washington, DC, elections.
- Describe the political geography of the District, and explain the various divisions: wards, precincts, Board of Education Election Districts, and Single Member Advisory Neighborhood Commission Districts, or SMDs.
- Identify public officials elected by District voters, and explain how these officials are elected: the mayor; council members and Board of Education members elected citywide and council members and Board of Education members, who represent their wards; Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, who represent their Single Member Districts; and the Washington, DC, delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Explain how ballot initiatives and referenda can shape public policies, providing examples of local policies that resulted from such ballot measures. In addition, explain the process for recalling public officials in the District.
Students describe the growth of Washington, DC, as a cultural center and as a world capital.
- Identify the various ancestries of Washingtonians today.
- Identify the innovative theaters and museums that came to life after the 1960s, and explain how theaters and museums contribute to the idea of Washington, DC, as a world capital.
- Describe the collaboration between public and private agencies to save important buildings and support cultural programs in Washington, DC.
- Identify the media outlets that Washingtonians have created and relied on for local, national, and international information.
- Identify the local professional sports teams that represent the nation’s capital.
- On a map, identify the locations for annual festivals in Washington, DC, and describe what they offer in terms of entertainment.
- Describe the central importance of Washington, DC’s universities (e.g., Georgetown, American, Howard, Catholic, and Gallaudet) in attracting international students, faculty, and staff with particular global interests.
In addition to the standards for grades 9 through 12, students demonstrate the following intellectual, reasoning, reflection, and research skills.:
Historical Chronology and Interpretation
- Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned.
- Students analyze how change happens at different rates at different times, understand that some aspects can change while others remain the same, and understand that change is complicated and affects not only technology and politics but also values and beliefs.
- Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
- Students recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.
- Students distinguish intended from unintended consequences.
- Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than present-day norms and values.
- Students understand the meaning, implication, and impact of historical events and recognize that events could have taken other directions.
- Students conduct cost-benefit analyses and apply basic economic indicators to analyze the aggregate economic behavior of the U.S. economy.
- Students understand the influence of physical and human geographic factors on the evolution of significant historic events and movements. They apply the geographic viewpoint to local, regional, and world policies and problems.
- Students use a variety of maps and documents to interpret human movement, including major patterns of domestic and international migration, changing environmental preferences and settlement patterns, the frictions that develop between population groups, and the diffusion of ideas, technological innovations, and goods. Identify major patterns of human migration, both in the past and present.
- Students relate current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions. They identify the characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics.
- Students evaluate ways in which technology has expanded the capability of humans to modify the physical environment and the ability of humans to mitigate the effect of natural disasters.
- Students hypothesize about the impact of push-pull factors on human migration in selected regions and about the changes in these factors over time. Students develop maps of human migration and settlement patterns at different times in history and compare them to the present.
- Students note significant changes in the territorial sovereignty that took place in the history units being studied.
- Students study current events to explain how human actions modify the physical environment and how the physical environment affects human systems (e.g., natural disasters, climate, and resources). They explain the resulting environmental policy issues.
- Students explain how different points of view influence policies relating to the use and management of Earth’s resources.
- Students identify patterns and networks of economic interdependence in the contemporary world.
Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View
- Students distinguish valid arguments from fallacious arguments in historical interpretations (e.g., appeal to false authority, unconfirmed citations, ad hominem argument, appeal to popular opinion).
- Students identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.
- Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors’ use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.
- Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.