The CivXNow Coalition unites the civic learning community in a nationwide movement to improve and strengthen state-level policies and practices in civic education. To strengthen the quality of K–12 civic education, the CivXNow Coalition urges state and local education policymakers to focus on the policy goals in our State Policy Menu.
Universal Access to High-quality Civic Learning Opportunities: States should work to strengthen their course requirements in civic education. Based on existing research and recognized best practices.
State Standards: As states undertake periodic revisions of their standards for learning in the social studies, these standards should be updated in alignment with the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy. States should also ensure a uniform approach to media literacy instruction across core curricular areas.
Pre-service Teaching Requirements: States should strengthen pre-service requirements for civics teachers by requiring undergraduate courses in U.S. Government and U.S. History, as well as undergraduate course work in the unique pedagogy of history and civics. States should also implement a fellowship program to encourage humanities and social science graduates of color to join the social studies teaching profession.
Educator Professional Development: States should provide adequate resources for ongoing professional development (PD) for civics teachers, on par with that provided to math, literacy, and science teachers. PD opportunities should strengthen teachers’ civic and historical content knowledge, as well as instructional strategies, including media literacy, to facilitate engaged and effective learning.
Assessment and Accountability: States should ensure that assessments are embedded in classroom instruction and used as sources of information for students and teachers, with the results informing and/or shifting classroom practices. States should provide student credentialing benchmarks at appropriate grade-level junctures, including civics graduation seals or certificates, with district-level implementation. States should require a civic learning plan from every Local Education Agency (LEA) and aggregate LEA civic learning plans to allow comparisons and assessments of progress, permitting the reporting of results disaggregated by demographic subgroups. States should integrate civic learning plan data within school performance indicators and participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Civics and U.S. History.
Deepen and Honor Schoolwide and Community Commitments to Civic Learning: Each state should ensure that youth voice and participation are included in education and community decision-making by ensuring meaningful student representation on local boards, commissions, and other governmental bodies. Student representatives should be elected by, and accountable to, their peers. States should also verify that school and district practices related to school discipline, safety, and culture reflect the principles of constitutional democracy, with a commitment to ensuring that every student has an opportunity to be heard when they are in conflict or facing discipline. States should establish a recognition program to encourage excellence in civic learning for all, capacity building, practices of constitutional democracy, and student agency.
Equity in Civics: Access to high-quality civic learning opportunities must be universal and culturally responsive. The students who make up the United States’ increasingly racially and ethnically diverse student body must both see themselves in civics curriculum and instruction and experience “windows” to cultures beyond their own. States should actively recruit and work to retain teachers of color into the ranks of social studies educators, and disaggregate civics assessment and accountability data to ensure equitable access and address disparate outcomes. Equity should be among the major criteria for school recognition programs, and policy implementation must take equity into account through both design and investment.
Implementation: States should establish or empower an in-state entity to help schools and districts implement new policies equitably and create designated funds to attract public and private investment in civic education policy implementation.
America’s self-governing constitutional democracy requires better civic education. High-quality, school-based K–12 civic learning for all is necessary to produce an electorate better equipped to meet the significant internal threats from polarization and misinformation the United States faces today. Civic learning is foundational to our shared civic strength and enshrined in most state constitutions. While 43 states require at least one civics course, too few incorporate proven pedagogical principles. Moreover, some state social studies standards informing history and civics teaching are outdated, too general, devoid of content guidance, and fail to facilitate students’ civic development. And professional development opportunities to enhance pre- and in-service teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills are too few, underfunded, and deprioritized.
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