Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
We have been following with great interest the release of CIRCLE’s new report that examines the standards, course requirements, and mandatory assessments related to civic education in each of the 50 states. Yesterday, the folks at the CIRCLE blog provided a good explanation of why the report is important and how we should view its results. The findings show that all states have social studies standards, but very few require testing to find out whether students are learning the knowledge the standards require. As the Program’s Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller have pointed out, this is a major concern.
But what CIRCLE also explains is that civic education must also reach youth outside of the traditional school environment:
Although the information tested above is important, we’ve found from previous research that low-income, urban youth learn different ideas and skills from daily experience in their own communities. In some instances, young people derive lessons from daily experience that contrast with the messages taught in social studies and civics class. They may be taught, for example, that all citizens are equal under the law, yet experience a very different reality.
Because youth come to politics with diverse experiences, they may not all need the same skills and knowledge to participate effectively. But in designing curricula, requirements, standards, surveys, and tests, it is important to ask what skills and knowledge they really need.
Read more about CIRCLE’s work in civic education over at their website.