Social studies teachers in the Sweet Home School District on Tuesday unveiled a series of new learning goals for middle and high school students aimed at enhancing in-depth learning and critical thinking.

The three-tiered learning goals for social studies were shared with the School Board in a presentation by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Larry J. Leaven, other administrators, and high school and middle school social studies teachers in the district.

Students will be tasked first with a foundational goal, which entails identifying basic content, such as people, terms and events for each unit of study.

The students will then move on to a target goal indicating their comprehension of how the course content affects various people in different regions of the world and how it relates to particular time periods.

The students will finally learn to meet a complex goal, such as formulating arguments about current or future issues base on historical evidence.

Leaven said the goal is for high school seniors to become engaged in the process of answering fundamental questions about current events, beyond just memorizing facts.

The aim is to better prepare students for the rigors of college.

"Professors complain that a number of students coming into college have to take a remedial course in writing. That shouldn't be happening," Leaven said.

As a final project, students will spend a week collecting research for a policy project related to a societal issue or problem that they have identified.

Each of the students will prove that their problem exists through the data they have collected, statistics, surveys and interviews.

Board members expressed excitement over the new learning goals

"It gives students a focus," board member Carol A. Nowak said.