Making Standards Anything but Standard

4 min read

Learn how the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District followed California’s K-12 History‒Social Science Framework to go from pilot program to success with Gale eBooks alignments

| By Jenn Roush, Asst. Director of Curriculum and Instruction, District Librarian, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District |

In 2016, the State Board of Education in California adopted a new History–Social Science Framework (CA HSS Framework) for California Public Schools K-12. The framework doesn’t replace the existing CA HSS standards adopted in 1998, but instead is a “road map as to how districts, schools, and teachers can better meet the diverse needs of students.” It emphasizes four key instructional shifts: the development of student content knowledge, discipline inquiry, student literacy, and citizenship.1

Embracing the challenge

Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has a student population of nearly 22,000 and is one of the larger districts to adopt this framework. Jenn Roush serves as the district’s assistant director of curriculum and instruction as well as the district librarian. Early in the adoption process, Roush says they partnered with the UC Davis History Project to create a common vision and language that (1) best supported the state standards and the CA HSS Framework and (2) met all of the requirements of the state’s FAIR Education Act. Known as Senate Bill 48, the FAIR Education Act requires that California public schools provide fair, accurate, inclusive, and respectful representations of the diverse ethnic and cultural population in the K‒12 grade history and social studies curriculum. It includes persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups.2

The district wanted to be intentional throughout the process. With this in mind, they began with a pilot program at just the high school level. As Roush explains it, “Our high school teachers were ready. They had a strong understanding of the framework. They had a strong understanding of the FAIR Education Act. And they were at a point where they were ready to dive in and select materials. So, while our high school teachers were piloting and adopting new materials, our elementary and middle school teachers were undergoing a year of inquiry and professional development and building that foundation of understanding.”

“When we were selecting materials, particularly with the FAIR Education Act, our district knew it was important for all students to see themselves represented in the curriculum and to see the role and the contributions of all members of our community represented in the curriculum. I’m very proud to say that our Gale eBooks help us accomplish that goal.”
— Jenn Roush, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction, District Librarian

Preparing students for success

As they considered what resources were necessary, they realized that textbooks alone weren’t enough. “We knew that we needed to include a digital component that increased equity and access for all students,” says Roush. So they turned to Gale, a Cengage Company, where they could explore hand-curated eBook collections for elementary, middle, and high school aligned to the CA History‒Social Science Framework. Accessible through Gale eBooks, each grade level includes multiple bookshelves that align to the HSS Framework, plus special bookshelves just for primary sources or content that supports instruction based on the FAIR Act.

According to Roush, the trial went so well that they have since added to their collection, including an entirely new elementary collection they’ll be rolling out this fall. She says, “Giving our teachers and students access to these eBooks has removed barriers for our students. When you go into Gale eBooks, you’re able to search by standards. You’re able to search by topics. The ability to differentiate instruction has transformed what is happening in our history‒social science classes and is ensuring that all students have an entry point into their learning and their thinking.”

To find out how to access Gale’s expert eBook alignments or request a custom alignment for your school, visit

1. History‒Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, California Department of Education, 2017.
2.“Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act (FAIR),” Sacramento City Unified School District, accessed April 10, 2020.

An excerpt of a case study originally appearing in the Gale eBooks student collection catalog, July 2020.

Tara Atterberry

Meet the Author

Jenn Roush is the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s assistant director of curriculum and instruction as well as the district librarian. As an educator, she’s committed to providing students with resources to support them in their education and beyond. In addition to her work with the district, Jenn is the 2020‒2021 president-elect for the California School Library Association Northern Region Board.

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