Standards of Learning
The Standards of Learning (SOL) describe the commonwealth of Virginia’s expectations for student learning and achievement in grades K-12 in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, technology, the fine arts, foreign language, health and physical education, and driver education. The full state History and Social Science Standards of Learning document can be found here. Below are the Virginia and United States standards.
Virginia and United States History
The standards for Virginia and United States History include the historical development of American ideas and institutions from the Age of Exploration to the present. While focusing on political and economic history, the standards provide students with a basic knowledge of American culture through a chronological survey of major issues, movements, people, and events in United States and Virginia history. Students should use historical and geographical analysis skills to explore in depth the events, people, and ideas that fostered our national identity and led to our country’s prominence in world affairs.
The study of history must emphasize the intellectual skills required for responsible citizenship. Students practice these skills as they extend their understanding of the essential knowledge defined by all of the standards for history and social science.
VUS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship , including the ability to
- identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary source documents, records, and data, including artifacts, diaries, letters, photographs, journals, newspapers, historical accounts, and art, to increase understanding of events and life in the United States;
- formulate historical questions and defend findings, based on inquiry and interpretation;
- develop perspectives of time and place, including the construction of maps and various timelines of events, periods, and personalities in American history;
- communicate findings orally and in analytical essays or comprehensive papers;
- develop skills in discussion, debate, and persuasive writing with respect to enduring issues and determine how divergent viewpoints have been addressed and reconciled;
- apply geographic skills and reference sources to understand how relationships between humans and their environment have changed over time;
- identify the costs and benefits of specific choices made, including the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the decisions and how people and nations responded to positive and negative incentives.
VUS.2 The student will describe how early European exploration and colonization resulted in cultural interactions among Europeans, Africans, and American Indians.
VUS.3 The student will describe how the values and institutions of European economic and political life took root in the colonies and how slavery reshaped European and African life in the Americas .
VUS.7 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era and their importance as major turning points in American history by
- evaluating the multiple causes of the Civil War, including the role of the institution of slavery as a principal cause of the conflict;
- dentifying the major events and the roles of key leaders of the Civil War Era, with emphasis on Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Frederick Douglass;
- analyzing the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the principles outlined in Lincoln ‘s Gettysburg Address;
- examining the political and economic impact of the war and Reconstruction, including the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States ;
- examining the social impact of the war on African Americans, the common soldier, and the home front, with emphasis on Virginia ;
- explaining postwar contributions of key leaders of the Civil War.
VS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship , including the ability to
- identify and interpret artifacts and primary and secondary source documents to understand events in history;
- determine cause-and-effect relationships;
- compare and contrast historical events;
- draw conclusions and make generalizations;
- make connections between past and present;
- sequence events in Virginia history;
- interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives;
- evaluate and discuss issues orally and in writing;
- analyze and interpret maps to explain relationships among landforms, water features, climatic characteristics, and historical events.
VS.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the first permanent English settlement in America by
- explaining the reasons for English colonization;
- describing how geography influenced the decision to settle at Jamestown ;
- identifying the importance of the General Assembly (1619) as the first representative legislative body in English America;
- identifying the importance of the arrival of Africans and English women to the Jamestown settlement;
- describing the hardships faced by settlers at Jamestown and the changes that took place to ensure survival;
- describing the interactions between the English settlers and the native peoples, including the contributions of Powhatan to the survival of the settlers.
VS.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by
- explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery;
- describing how the culture of colonial Virginia reflected the origins of European (English, Scots-Irish , German) immigrants, Africans, and American Indians;
- describing everyday life in colonial Virginia .
VS.7 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by
- identifying the events and differences between northern and southern states that divided Virginians and led to secession, war, and the creation of West Virginia ;
- describing Virginia ‘s role in the war, including identifying major battles that took place in Virginia ;
- describing the roles played by whites, enslaved African Americans, free African Americans, and American Indians.
USI.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of European exploration in North America and West Africa by
- describing the motivations for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English explorations;
- describing cultural and economic interactions between Europeans and American Indians that led to cooperation and conflict, with emphasis on the American Indian concept of land;
- identifying the location and describing the characteristics of West African societies ( Ghana , Mali , and Songhai ) and their interactions with traders.
USI.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the factors that shaped colonial America by
- describing the religious and economic events and conditions that led to the colonization of America ;
- describing life in the New England , Mid-Atlantic, and Southern colonies, with emphasis on how people interacted with their environment to produce goods and services, including examples of specialization and interdependence;
- describing colonial life in America from the perspectives of large landowners, farmers, artisans, women, free African Americans, indentured servants, and enslaved African Americans;
USI.9 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by
- describing the cultural, economic, and constitutional issues that divided the nation;
- explaining how the issues of states’ rights and slavery increased sectional tensions;
- identifying on a map the states that seceded from the Union and those that remained in the Union ;
- describing the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Frederick Douglass in events leading to and during the war;
- using maps to explain critical developments in the war, including major battles;
- describing the effects of war from the perspectives of Union and Confederate soldiers (including African American soldiers), women, and enslaved African Americans.
USII.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the effects of Reconstruction on American life by
- analyzing the impact of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States ;
GOVT.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the concepts of democracy by
- recognizing the fundamental worth and dignity of the individual;
- recognizing the equality of all citizens under the law;
- recognizing majority rule and minority rights;
- recognizing the necessity of compromise;
- recognizing the freedom of the individual.
GOVT.9 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the process by which public policy is made by
- examining different perspectives on the role of government;
- describing how the national government influences the public agenda and shapes public policy;
- describing how the state and local governments influence the public agenda and shape public policy.