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District of Columbia eighth-grade social studies standards

Alignments coming soon

IXL's eighth-grade skills will be aligned to the District of Columbia Learning Standards soon! Until then, you can view a complete list of eighth-grade standards below. Be sure to check out the unlimited social studies practice questions in IXL's 75 eighth-grade skills.

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Our Colonial Heritage (1600–1720)

  • 8.1 Students explain the religious, political, and economic reasons for movement of people from Europe to the Americas, and they describe the impact of exploration and settlement by Europeans on Native Americans.

    • 1 Describe the varied economies and trade networks within and among major indigenous cultures prior to contact with Europeans and their systems of government, religious beliefs, distinct territories, and customs and traditions.

    • 2 Explain instances of both cooperation and conflict between Native Americans and European settlers, such as agriculture, trade, cultural exchanges, and military alliances, as well as later broken treaties, massacres, and conflicts over control of the land.

    • 3 Explain geographic reasons for the development of communications and smuggling within the colonies (irregular coastlines, need for products not produced locally).

    • 4 Locate and identify the first 13 colonies, and describe how their location and natural environment influenced their development.

    • 5 Identify the contributions of political and religious leaders in colonial America (e.g., John Smith, William Bradford, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, and William Penn).

    • 6 Describe the significance and leaders of the First Great Awakening, which marked a shift in religious ideas, practices, and allegiances in the colonial period and the growth in religious toleration and free exercise of religion.

    • 7 Describe the day-to-day colonial life for men, women, and children in different regions and their connection to the land.

    • 8 Examine the beginnings of Africans in America by identifying some of the major ethnic/national groups that came (e.g., Yoruba, Ibo, Bambara, Ki-Kongo, Wolof, Akan, and Hausas)

    • 9 Explain that some Africans came to America as indentured servants who were released at the end of their indentures, as well as those who came as captives to slavery.

    • 10 Identify the origins and development of slavery in the colonies, the struggle between proponents and opponents of slavery in the colonies, and overt and passive resistance to enslavement (e.g., the Middle Passage).

A New Nation (1720–1787)

  • 8.2 Students understand the major events preceding the founding of the nation and relate their significance to the development of American constitutional democracy.

    • 1 Describe the relationship between the moral and political ideas of the Great Awakening and the development of revolutionary fervor.

    • 2 Explain how freedom from European feudalism and aristocracy and the widespread ownership of property fostered individualism and contributed to the American Revolution.

    • 3 Analyze the philosophy of government expressed in the Declaration of Independence, with an emphasis on government as a means of securing individual rights (e.g., key phrases such as "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights").

    • 4 Identify the political and economic causes and consequences of the American Revolution and the major battles, leaders, and events that led to a final peace (e.g., free press and taxation without representation).

    • 5 Analyze how the American Revolution influenced other nations' revolutions.

    • 6 Explain the nation's blend of civic republicanism, classical liberal principles, and English parliamentary traditions.

    • 7 Describe the functions and responsibilities of a free press.

The Constitution of the United States (1777–1789)

  • 8.3 Students analyze the political principles underlying the U.S. Constitution, and they compare the enumerated and implied powers of the federal government.

    • 1 Describe the significance of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the Mayflower Compact.

    • 2 Analyze the Articles of Confederation and the reasons for its replacement by the Constitution.

    • 3 Explain the Constitution and its success in implementing the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

    • 4 Evaluate the major debates that occurred during the development of the Constitution and their ultimate resolutions in such areas as shared power among institutions, divided state-federal power, slavery, the rights of individuals and states (later addressed by the addition of the Bill of Rights), and the status of American Indian nations.

    • 5 Describe the political philosophy underpinning the Constitution as specified in The Federalist Papers (by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay), and explain the role of such leaders as James Madison, George Washington, Roger Sherman, Gouverneur Morris, and James Wilson in the writing and ratification of the Constitution.

    • 6 Describe the principles of federalism, dual sovereignty, separation of powers, checks and balances, the nature and purpose of majority rule, and the ways in which the American idea of constitutionalism preserves individual rights.

    • 7 Identify and explain the origins, purpose, and differing views of the framers on the issue of the separation of church and state.

    • 8 Explain the significance of Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom as a forerunner of the First Amendment.

    • 9 Describe the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights.

    • 10 Explain the need and reasons for amendments to the Constitution.

  • 8.4 Students understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in it.

    • 1 Analyze the principles and concepts codified in state constitutions between 1777 and 1781 that created the context out of which American political institutions and ideas developed.

    • 2 Explain how the ordinances of 1785 and 1787 privatized national resources and transferred federally owned lands into private holdings, townships, and states.

    • 3 Explain the strict versus loose interpretation of the Constitution and how the conflicts between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton resulted in the emergence of two political parties (e.g., their views of foreign policy, Alien and Sedition Acts, economic policy, National Bank, funding, and assumption of the revolutionary debt).

    • 4 Understand the significance of domestic resistance movements and the way in which the central government responded to such movements (e.g., Shays' Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion).

    • 5 Describe the basic law-making process and how the Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government (e.g., function of elections, political parties, and interest groups).

    • 6 Enumerate the advantages of a common market among the states as foreseen in and protected by the Constitution's clauses on interstate commerce, common coinage, etc.

Launching the Young Nation (1789–1849)

  • 8.5 Students analyze the aspirations and ideals of the people of the new nation.

    • 1 Explain the policy significance of famous speeches (e.g., Washington's farewell address and Jefferson's 1801 inaugural address).

    • 2 Explain and identify on a map the territorial expansion during the terms of the first four presidents (e.g., the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Louisiana Purchase).

    • 3 Describe daily life — including traditions in art, music, and literature — of early national America (e.g., through writings by Washington Irving, and James Fenimore Cooper).

    • 4 Analyze the rise of capitalism and the economic problems and conflicts that accompanied it (e.g., Jackson's opposition to the National Bank; early decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that reinforced the sanctity of contracts).

  • 8.6 Students analyze U.S. foreign policy in the early Republic.

    • 1 Explain the political and economic causes and consequences of the War of 1812 and the major battles, leaders, and events that led to a final peace.

    • 2 Outline the major treaties with American Indian nations during the administrations of the first four presidents and the varying outcomes of those treaties.

    • 3 Identify on a map the changing boundaries of the United States and the relationships the country had with its neighbors (currently Mexico and Canada) and Europe, including the influence of the Monroe Doctrine, and explain how those relationships influenced westward expansion and the Mexican-American War.

The Divergent and Unifying Paths of the American People (1800–1850)

  • 8.7 Students analyze the paths of the American people in the North from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

    • 1 Locate and identify the states that made up the Northern region of the United States on a map.

    • 2 Describe the influence of industrialization and technological developments on the region, including human modification of the landscape and how physical geography shaped human actions (e.g., growth of cities, deforestation, farming, and mineral extraction).

    • 3 Outline the physical obstacles to and the economic and political factors involved in building a network of roads, canals, and railroads (e.g., Henry Clay's American System).

    • 4 List and describe the reasons for the wave of immigration from Northern Europe to the United States, and describe the growth in the number, size, and spatial arrangements of cities (e.g., Irish immigrants and the Great Irish Famine).

    • 5 Describe the lives of black Americans who gained freedom in the North and founded mutual aid societies, schools, and churches to advance their rights and communities.

    • 6 Explain how the American North saw the emergence of ethnic self-identities that became political power groups and defined communities in urban areas (Germans, Irish, Jews, and black Yankees), and describe the political struggles among them.

    • 7 Trace the development of the American education system from its earliest roots, including the roles of religious and private schools and Horace Mann's campaign for free public education and its assimilating role in American culture.

    • 8 Explain the women's suffrage movement (e.g., biographies, writings, and speeches of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart, Margaret Fuller, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony).

    • 9 Identify common themes in American art as well as transcendentalism and individualism (e.g., writings about and by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

  • 8.8 Students analyze the paths of the American people in the South from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

    • 1 Locate and identify the states that made up the Southern region of the United States on a map.

    • 2 Describe the development of the agrarian economy in the South, the locations of the cotton-producing states, and the significance of cotton and the cotton gin.

    • 3 Explain the characteristics of white Southern society and how the physical environment influenced events and conditions prior to the Civil War.

    • 4 Trace the development of slavery; its effects on black Americans and on the region's political, social, religious, economic, and cultural development; and the strategies that were tried to both overturn and preserve it (e.g., through the writings of David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Delany and Frederick Douglass, as well as the historical documents on Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey).

  • 8.9 Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people in the West from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

    • 1 Locate and identify the states that made up the Western region of the United States on a map.

    • 2 Describe the election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828, the importance of Jacksonian democracy, and his actions as president (e.g., the spoils system, veto of the National Bank, and opposition to the Supreme Court).

    • 3 Describe the course and outcome of conflicts between American Indians and Europeans settlers over land (Indian Wars).

    • 4 Describe the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the land-exchange treaties that forced Native Americans who lived east of the Mississippi River further west, and the effect these policies had on Native American nations (e.g., Cherokee Nation versus Georgia).

    • 5 Describe the purpose, challenges, and economic incentives associated with westward expansion, including the concept of Manifest Destiny (e.g., accounts of the removal of Indians, the Cherokees' Trail of Tears, and settlement of the Great Plains) and the territorial acquisitions that spanned numerous decades.

    • 6 Locate the great rivers on a map, and explain their importance and the struggle over water rights.

    • 7 Describe the role of pioneer women and the new status that Western women achieved (e.g., Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, Mary Fields "Stagecoach Mary," slave women gaining freedom in the West, and Wyoming granting suffrage to women in 1869).

    • 8 Describe Mexican settlements and their locations, cultural traditions, attitudes toward slavery, land-grant system, and economies.

    • 9 Describe the Texas War for Independence and the Mexican-American War, including territorial settlements, the aftermath of the wars, and the effects the wars had on the lives of Americans, including Mexican Americans today.

  • 8.10 Students analyze the issue of slavery, including the early and steady attempts to abolish slavery and to realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

    • 1 Describe the abolition of slavery in early state constitutions.

    • 2 Describe the significance of the Northwest Ordinance in education and in the banning of slavery in new states north of the Ohio River.

    • 3 Identify the various leaders of the abolitionist movement (e.g., John Quincy Adams and his proposed constitutional amendment and the Amistad case; John Brown and the armed resistance; Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad; Theodore Weld, crusader for freedom; William Lloyd Garrison and The Liberator; Frederick Douglass and the Slave Narratives; Martin Delany and The Emigration Cause; and Sojourner Truth and "Ain't I a Woman").

    • 4 Describe the importance of the slavery issue as raised by the annexation of Texas and California's admission to the union as a free state under the Compromise of 1850.

    • 5 Analyze the significance of the States' Rights Doctrine, the Missouri Compromise (1820), the Wilmot Proviso (1846), the Compromise of 1850, Henry Clay's role in the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision (1857), and the Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858).

    • 6 Identify the conditions of enslavement, and explain how slaves adapted and resisted in their daily lives.

    • 7 Describe the lives of free blacks and the laws that limited their freedom and economic opportunities (e.g., Cincinnati riots and the Ohio Black Codes).

Civil War and Reconstruction (1830–1877)

  • 8.11 Students analyze the multiple causes, key events, and complex consequences of the Civil War.

    • 1 Trace on a map the boundaries constituting the North and the South, the geographical differences between the two regions, and the differences between agrarians and industrialists.

    • 2 Compare the conflicting interpretations of state and federal authority as emphasized in the speeches and writings of statesmen, such as Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun.

    • 3 Identify the constitutional issues posed by the doctrine of nullification and secession and the earliest origins of that doctrine.

    • 4 Describe Abraham Lincoln's presidency and his significant writings and speeches and their relationship to the Declaration of Independence (e.g., his House Divided speech in 1858, Gettysburg Address in 1863, Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and inaugural addresses in 1861 and 1865).

    • 5 Explain the views and lives of leaders (e.g., Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee) and soldiers on both sides of the war, including those of black soldiers and regiments.

    • 6 Describe African American involvement in the Union army, including the Massachusetts 54th Regiment led by Colonel Robert Shaw.

    • 7 Describe critical developments and events in the war, including locating on a map the major battles, geographical advantages and obstacles, technological advances, and General Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

    • 8 Explain how the war affected combatants, civilians, the physical environment, and future warfare.

  • 8.12 Students analyze the character and lasting consequences of Reconstruction.

    • 1 Explain the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution and their connection to Reconstruction.

    • 2 List and describe the original aims of Reconstruction (e.g., to reunify the nation) and its effects on the political and social structures of different regions.

    • 3 Explain the effects of the Freedmen's Bureau and the restrictions placed on the rights and opportunities of freedmen, including racial segregation and Jim Crow laws.

    • 4 Trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice.

    • 5 Explain the movement of both white Northern entrepreneurs (carpetbaggers) and black Yankees from the North to the South and their reasons for doing so.

    • 6 Explain the push-pull factors in the movement of former slaves to the cities in the North and to the West and their differing experiences in those regions (e.g., the experiences of Buffalo Soldiers and the Exodusters).

    • 7 Outline the pulling out of the federal army and its troops from the South due to an agreement negotiated by a bipartisan Congressional Commission, thus ending Reconstruction.

The Rise of Industrial America (1877–1914)

  • 8.13 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.

    • 1 Explain the location and effects of urbanization, renewed immigration, and industrialization (e.g., the effects on social fabric of cities, wealth and economic opportunity, and the conservation movement).

    • 2 Identify the new sources of large-scale immigration and the contributions of immigrants to the building of cities and the economy (e.g., Italians, Jews, Greeks, Slavs, and Asians); the ways in which new social and economic patterns encourage assimilation of newcomers into the mainstream amid growing cultural diversity; and the new wave of nativism.

    • 3 Explain ecological, economic and race factors that contributed to the start of the mass migration of African Americans from the Southern regions of the United States to the Northeast and Midwest regions.

    • 4 Explain the connection between the ideology of Manifest Destiny and accelerated economic growth of the United States in the late 19th century (e.g., connection between U.S. business interests and military intervention in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean).