Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum FAQs

Information and frequently asked questions about the ongoing process of developing the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
Why is California creating an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum?

California is required by statute to develop a model curriculum in ethnic studies that can be used as a guide for districts or schools that want to develop their own curriculum.

What is a model curriculum?

A model curriculum is a guidance document that provides support to teachers and administrators in developing courses and/or instructional content in a specific topic area. It is not a complete classroom curriculum or instructional materials; it is intended as a resource. A model curriculum is similar to a curriculum framework, but with a specific focus. The César E. Chávez model curriculum is an example of a curriculum that was previously adopted by the State Board of Education.

Why ethnic studies?

California is committed to providing excellent educational opportunities to all students. Research shows that culturally meaningful and relevant curriculum can have a positive impact on students. Students that become more engaged in school through courses like ethnic studies are more likely to graduate and feel more personally empowered. A number of California school districts have already adopted local ethnic studies programs, and some have implemented a local graduation requirement in ethnic studies. This model curriculum will provide support to other districts that are considering similar options.

Are schools required to use the model curriculum?

The model curriculum is a guide. Schools and districts may use it when developing an ethnic studies curriculum that best addresses local student needs. Many schools and districts already offer ethnic studies electives or programs and many of those courses meet the University of California’s A-G requirements.

What has been the process for developing the model curriculum so far?

The State Board of Education in July 2018 approved guidelines to direct development of a curriculum. Following adoption of the guidelines, the State Board appointed a Model Curriculum Advisory Committee to develop a draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum aligned with the guidelines and with state statute. The committee’s recommendation was presented to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) – an advisory body to the State Board of Education – in May. The commission made 12 amendments and voted to post it for a public comment review period through August 15, 2019.

More than 20,000 comments were submitted to CDE regarding the draft. Given the controversy, the IQC in September did not move forward with the draft.

Following the IQC meeting, Superintendent Thurmond convened a panel discussion of college professors and K-12 teachers to shed light on the history of ethnic studies and the impact such courses have had on students.

What is the process going forward?

AB 114, signed by Governor Newsom in October, extended the timeline for completion of the curriculum to March 2021. CDE is using the extra time to visit school districts in California to hear about Ethnic Studies programs and meet with teachers and administrators to discuss challenges and successes in implementing the course. In addition, the state is working with partners to conduct focus groups with teachers to glean insights on what educators will need to successfully develop a course that meets local needs.

Is the advisory committee or team of original writers working on the new draft? What role will the expert panel play going forward?

The advisory committee and original writing team have completed their assigned task. CDE’s curriculum team will be directing the revision process using input from experts in the field, submitted feedback and other public comments. Input from the September panel discussion will be considered in the revision and participants may continue to provide consultation.

How will CDE approach the revision process?

The state is responsible for ensuring that the model curriculum meets the requirements of AB 2016 External link opens in new window or tab. (the law that directed the development of the model curriculum) and follows the guidelines established by the State Board of Education.

How can I provide my thoughts on the draft?

Public comment can be sent to the CDE, IQC, and State Board of Education at

Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 11, 2020