During the course of our two year study, we looked at standards (click here for a definition) that have been developed for Civics educators. As we are in California, schools in our districts are bound by the California standards, but the others are also worthy of a look.
In Appendix C of our study report, we present a synopsis of the California Standards relevant to civics education.
The California Standards were developed to implement the California History-Social Science Framework. An HTML version (faster to access) http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/sub_standards/cal_hist_socsci_frame_stan.html
During the course of our two-year study, we found other organizations and institutions that have researched Civics education in the United States. Below are links to pages that explain what they found.
Every year the Department of Education focuses on a different discipline in its Nation’s Report Card series. The most recent Civics assessment was conducted in 2006.
For an explanation of what the Civics report card measures, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/civics/whatmeasure.asp
- CIRCLE: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
CIRCLE promotes research on the civic and political engagement of Americans between the ages of 15 and 25. Their fact sheets and research papers are first rate. This site is not to be missed.
- The Civic Purposes of Public Schools
This 12 page report was published in 2002 by Edsource, “an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to clarify complex education issues and to promote thoughtful policy decisions about public school improvement.”
Young Voter Strategies is a nonpartisan project of The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Young Voter Strategies provides the public, parties, candidates, consultants and non-profits with data on the youth vote and tools to effectively mobilize this electorate. In August 2007, Young Voter Strategies merged with Rock the Vote.
On September 18, 2006, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation released this follow-up to its 2004 study on high school students and the First Amendment. In a nutshell, the researchers conclude, “more students today think the First Amendment, as a whole, goes too far in the rights it guarantees. A gap is widening between those who support this fundamental law and those who don’t. And teachers, while themselves increasing their appreciation of the First Amendment, don’t think schools are doing a great job of teaching it.”
- Civic Literacy Report (Colleges and Universities)
On September 26, 2006, the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute released the results of their survey of over 14,000 college freshmen and seniors. The report title (The Coming Crisis in Citizenship: Higher Education’s Failure to Teach America’s History and Institutions) is not encouraging. Their report summary is available at:
The report has generated some controversy, especially regarding the nature of the questions asked and other aspects of its methodology. San Francisco Public Radio station KQED-FM devoted an hour to it on October 3, 2006. Those wanting to download the broadcast as an MP3 file, or listen to it online, may do so via links at:
For a liberal take on the validity of the report, have a look at John Seery’s Civics Education or Else!! at HuffingtonPost.