The California framework for History/Social Science prescribes specific segments of U.S. History to be studied during 5th, 8th, and 11th grade in order to avoid lengthy repetition and allow more in depth coverage. The curriculum for 8th grade picks up where 5th grade leaves off at the beginning of the United States as a nation and its form of government; 8th grade U.S. History ends on the eve of U.S. involvement in World War I leaving the remainder of America's story for the focus of 11th grade.
The twelve history standards tested during 8th grade and their detailed substandards can be seen in students' textbooks on pages H18 to H22. The six standards studied during the first semester begin with ideas about government and how they took shape in the U.S. Constitution. Understanding the structure and workings of the U.S. system of government is emphasized during the first half of the semester. Students next learn about developments from the 1780s to about 1850 including the origins of the two-party system, foreign relations, territorial expansion and the westward movement, and the emergence of nationalism and sectional differences. The remaining six standards covered during the second semester begin by comparing the different social and economic systems that evolved in the North and South. Students then learn how these differences and the movement to end slavery led to conflict. The Civil War and Reconstruction and their aftereffects are studied in detail. The last standard examines the modernization of the economy, society, and politics in the Gilded Age and the early 20th Century.