Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dwight W. Allen

Committee Member

Maurice R. Berube

Committee Member

Francis Alexander

Committee Member

Jane Hager

Committee Member

Donald A. Myers


This research project examines the process used by the National History Standards Project to build consensus for the development of national standards for teaching history in America's schools.

Since the publication of A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform by the National Commission of Excellence in Education in 1983, the American educational community has been in the grips of a reform movement. The aim of this movement is to examine where we have been and where we are going as a nation and to redefine what we believe in and what we believe is important to teach our children if they are to be successful participants in the twenty-first century. In 1989, former President George Bush and the governors of all 50 states gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to set national education goals. In 1990, six goals were established for American education. Of these six goals, the third addressed the need to develop national standards of learning in the core subjects. This national standards movement which began during the Bush administration has continued in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Designed by Charlotte Crabtree and directed by Crabtree and Gary Nash, the National History Standards Project included representatives of every affiliated professional organization and involved a wide array of people representing America's cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity.

Among the contentious issues on which the National History Standards Project had to reach consensus if it was to fulfill its mission of writing national standards for the teaching of history in America's schools were content versus process, the place of western civilization in the teaching of world history, and the inclusion of minority contributions in the teaching of United States history. A case study, developed according to the established protocol of propositions to be examined and questions to be asked, this dissertation creates a chain of evidence with explicit links between the questions asked, the data collected, and the conclusions drawn. Multiple sources of evidence include primary data, participant observations, with purposeful group interviews conducted to corroborate the evidence.

The conclusion reached in this study is that the National History Standards Project achieved a substantial and broad consensus of historians, professional associations, pre-collegiate teachers and a wide spectrum of civic, educational, professional and minority associations to write national standards for history.


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