State Standard - Social Studies

Grade 8
Standard 1.0 Political Science: Students will understand the historical development and current status of the fundamental concepts and processes of authority, power, and influence, with particular emphasis on democratic skills and attitudes necessary to become responsible citizens.
A. The Foundations and Function of Government
1. Investigate the evolution of the U.S. political system as expressed in the United States Constitution
a. Compare the confederate form of government under the Articles of Confederation with the federal form under the Constitution
b. Explain and summarize the principles of federalism, popular sovereignty, rule of law, consent of the governed, separation of powers, checks and balances, majority rule, limited government and how they protect individual rights and impact the functioning of government
c. Compare how the powers and functions of the three branches of government are divided and how they are shared to protect popular sovereignty
d. Explain and summarize how the supremacy of the national government was defined by events, such as Shay's Rebellion and early decisions of the Supreme Court, such as McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
e. Evaluate the role and responsibility of a legislator in a representative democracy
f. Analyze the impact of precedence in the office of the President, such as the establishment of a cabinet and foreign policy
g. Summarize an individual's legal obligations to obey the law, pay taxes, serve on a jury and serve as a witness
2. Analyze the impact of historic documents and practices that became the foundations of the American political system during the early national period
a. Evaluate the power and authority of the government on individuals
b. Identify the principles in European historic documents and show their connections to the development of American political ideology such as Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights
c. Explain how the philosophies of Hobbes, Locke and Montesquieu influenced the principles that shaped United States government
d. Describe the significance of principles in the development of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Preamble, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights
e. Describe the major debates and compromises that occurred during the Constitutional Convention and interpret their effects on the ratification process
f. Describe the development of political parties and their effects on elections and political life
g. Evaluate the significance of the Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th and 15th) and how they protected individual rights
3. Evaluate roles and policies of the United States government regarding public policy and issues
a. Examine the effect that national interests have on shaping government policy, such as the abolitionist movement and slavery, states' rights, and regional commerce
b. Evaluate regional and international perspectives regarding the formation and implementation of public policy, such as Washington's Farewell Address, Monroe Doctrine, westward expansion, sectionalism, plantation holders in the South v. the industrialists in the North
B. Individual and Group Participation in the Political System
1. Analyze the influence of individuals and groups on shaping public policy
a. Analyze the influence of the media on political life
b. Evaluate ways the citizens should use, monitor and influence the formation and implementation of public policy
c. Examine the roles and functions of political parties in the American system of government
d. Explain how the media, interest groups, and public opinion affected elected officials and government policy prior to the Civil War
2. Defend the importance of civic participation as a citizen of the United States
a. Evaluate ways people can participate in the political process including voting, analyzing the media, petitioning elected officials, and volunteering
b. Analyze the concept of citizenship and explain how the concept has changed from colonial times through Reconstruction
c. Evaluate how various groups provide opportunities for individuals to participate in the political process
C. Protecting Rights and Maintaining Order
1. Examine the impact of governmental decisions on individual rights and responsibilities in the United States
a. Describe responsibilities associated with certain basic rights of citizens, such as freedom of speech, religion, and press, and explain why these responsibilities are important
b. Explain how rules and laws protect individual rights and protect the common good
c. Explain the significance of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison which established judicial review
d. Describe the expansion of the powers of the national government in the decision of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case McCulloch v. Maryland
2. Explain how the United States government protected or failed to protect the rights of individuals and groups
a. Describe significance and effects of the Emancipation Proclamation
b. Describe methods that were used to deny civil rights to women, African Americans and Native Americans
c. Examine the use of Presidential power in Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus
3. Examine the principle of due process
a. Identify how due process of law protects individuals
b. Describe the due process protections in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment


MSDE has developed a toolkit for these standards which can be found online at:


Date: 1/27/2015