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Civic education plays an essential role in strengthening our democratic society, preparing informed citizens, and promoting their participation in the civic life of their communities. Lack of civic engagement and civic literacy among American youth is widespread, however. Although many state policymakers and educators speak to the importance of civic education in the schools, state policies and school practices often fail to provide students with the civic education they need and deserve.
This report, produced for the Center for Civic Education, explores state K-12 civic education policies and related requirements nationwide, as well as factors that shape K-12 civic education policies and practices in school districts and schools. The first two chapters provide the national and state contexts for content standards in core subject areas, including civics; review state constitutional provisions and statutes that promote civic education; and examine how social studies standards, assessment, teacher certification, and other state policies build upon these provisions and statutes. Recognizing the centrality of state standards, chapters 3 through 5 examine the extent to which civics content in state standards promotes civic dispositions, intellectual skills, and knowledge. Chapters 6 through 11 examine several influences on civic education at the district level: standards; instructional materials; assessment; professional development; extracurricular and co-curricular activities; and individuals, organizations, and funding. The final chapter provides some recommendations for developing sound, sustainable state and school district civics commitments that foster attention to civic education in grades K-12.
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