Missing in history: A content analysis of fifth-grade social studies American Revolutionary learning standards for the inclusion of African Americans in California, Florida, and Texas



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The purpose of this content analysis is to determine whether during a 5th grade social studies lesson cycle on the American Revolution of three very influential states there is fair representation of African American historical figures. The three states I specifically selected for this content analysis are California, Florida, and Texas. I chose these three states because they hold so much sway in textbook selection. Due to their respective sizes, it is understood in the publishing industry that what their state boards of education decide will be the set curriculum becomes, by default, the curriculum for many other states (Finn & Ravitch, 2004; Collins, 2012; Cavanagh, 2019).These three states exert their influence in setting the standards for what public school students will learn about U.S. history (Apple, 2013; Apple & Christian-Smith, 2017; Sleeter & Grant, 2017) and they are a dominant force impacting social studies textbook content (Anyon, 1979; Apple, 2012). Finn and Ravitch (2004) describe this situation as “a de facto nationalized textbook system” (p. 1). I selected the topic of mis- or non-representation of African American historical figures during lesson cycles on the American Revolution because of its limited research (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). The research questions this content analysis attempts to answer is “To what extent do the 5th grade public school social studies learning standards in California, Florida, and Texas include African American historical figures as participants in the American Revolution?” The content analysis examines 5th grade social studies curriculum because American history is commonly taught at this grade level based on the expanded horizons social studies curriculum (Krahenbuhl, 2019; Suna and Haas, 2005; Wade, 2002). The data was accessed and downloaded from each state’s Board of Education website. It was prepared for analysis by creating a table to track the types of individuals who are featured in the social studies learning standards of each state. Codes were created to represent the data maintaining meaning and essence of the text.

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California, Florida, Texas, Textbook adoption, Learning standards, American Revolution, U.S. history, Social studies