Connections to Curricular Standards

Systems thinking habits, tools and concepts are embedded, either implicitly or explicitly, within many existing state and national curricular standards.  See below for a few examples.  Each example includes a link to the related website(s) and one or more illustrations of systems thinking connections with key words italicized

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Systems thinking concepts are embedded within Common Core State Standards for Mathematics; English Language Arts; and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.    A few examples include:

Reading Standard for Informational Text K-5: Key Ideas and Details
Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

Download a document with specific correlations for reading in Kindergarten and Grade 2.

Middle School
Mathematics Standard Grade 8: Functions 8.F
Use functions to model relationships between quantities.

High School
Reading Standard for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12: Key Ideas and Details
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Download a document with specific correlations for reading in Grades 9/10.

Also, view the graphic on the Creative Learning Exchange website that illustrates connections between the Common Core and System Dynamics/Systems Thinking concepts and strategies. 

Next Generation Science Standards Website

Systems thinking concepts are strongly infused within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for both specific grade-level contexts as well as crosscutting concepts.  For example,

Elementary School
K-ESS3-1. Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.

Middle School
MS-LS1-3. Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.

High School
HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
Structure and function
Stability and change


National STEM Standards (PDF version)



View a graphic on the Creative Learning Exchange website that outlines connections between STEM standards and systems thinking concepts and tools.