You are here

Laws & Statutes Related to Social Studies Instruction in Wisconsin



WI Act 30 (2021) - Requiring the Teaching of the Holocaust and Other Genocides in Social Studies 

Signed into law in April 2021, WI Act 30 (2021) requires that every district in Wisconsin incorporate the teaching of the Holocaust and other genocides into the social studies curriculum.  The requirement is that it is taught at least once in grades 5-8 and at least once in grades 9-12.  The law states the curriculum must be updated by July 1, 2022, to be go into effect for the 2022-23 school year.  

As we continue the work to support this new law, we anticipate professional development opportunities to arise for our Wisconsin educators.  They will be posted here, on the social studies calendar, and to the social studies listserv.  

Kris McDaniel, DPI Social Studies consultant, will be holding open office hours in August with a general overview of the law, upcoming professional learning, and to answer any questions you might have. They will be held Th 8/12 from 2-3, T 8/17 from 10-11, M 8/23 from 1-2 (one of these will be recorded, it will all be the same info except for questions people might have)  Links to join will be posted soon. 

Questions concerning Act 30 can be directed to Kris McDaniel at .

Team icon

American Indian Studies - "Act 31"

Beginning September 1, 1991, as part of the social studies curriculum, include instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in this state at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades [Wisc. Stat. sec.121.02(1)(L)4].

Additional information on American Indian Studies Education in Wisconsin

Creative Thinking icon

Environmental Education

Environmental education objectives and activities shall be integrated into the kindergarten through grade 12 sequential curriculum plans, with the greatest emphasis in art, health, science and social studies education [Wis. Admin. Code sec. PI 8.01(2)(k)6.b].

Additional information on environmental education in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Education Standards 

Photo of Wisconsin Capitol

Elementary [Wis. Stat. sec. 121.02(1)(L)1]  and Grades 5-8 [Wis. Stat. sec. 121.02(1)(L)2] require "regular" instruction in social studies. "Regular" is defined as instruction each week for the entire school term in sufficient frequency and length to meet district curricular requirements . 

Grades 9-12 [Wis. Stat. sec. 121.02(1)(L)3] require access to an educational program that allows students each year to study social studies.  

State Education Standard (k) requires districts to have a written, sequential curriculum plan for social studies, which includes objectives, course content, resources, a program evaluation method, and allocation of instructional time . The curriculum plan must be reviewed at least once every five years and revised as appropriate [Wis. Stat. sec. 121.02(1)(k)].

Wisconsin Statute

Map of Wisconsin icon

At least three credits of social studies including state and local government are required for public high school graduation [Wis. Stat. sec. 118.33(1)(a)1.b].

Each public and private school must display the U.S. flag, and in public schools, either the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem must be offered each day in grades 1-12. No pupil may be compelled to recite the pledge or sing the anthem [Wisc. Stat. sec. 118.06].

The history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process was incorporated into Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Social Studies as required by Wisc. Stat. sec. 115.28(55).  The Wisconsin Labor History Society was also a trusted partner in reviewing the revised Wisconsin Standards for Social Studies to ensure compliance with the law.  

Beginning with the class of 2017, any student graduating from a public, charter, or choice school in Wisconsin must pass a civics test identical to the USCIS immigration test [Wisc. Stat. sec. 118.33(1m)(a)].

Educational Goals and Expectations: Citizenship [Wisc. Stat. sec. 118.01(2)(c)]

Government Building Icon
Each school board must provide an instructional program designed to give students:
  • an understanding of all levels of government;
  • a commitment to the basic values of the country;
  • skills to participate in political life;
  • understanding of the roles of organizations, resources, state, national, and world history;
  • Appreciation and understanding of different value systems and cultures, along with an understanding of human relations.

Constitution Day  Federal Code 36 USC 106

U.S. Map icon

Federal law requires any school district receiving federal funds to offer programming on the U.S. Constitution annually on September 17.