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March 16, 2021

Is it Working? Measuring Students’ Civic Learning

Are you integrating civic learning experiences into your classroom but unsure whether it’s working?

One common concern with civic education is that it’s often hard to determine whether it’s really deepening students’ civic knowledge, capacities, and commitments.

Assessment is one way to identify, inform, and move toward deeper learning. Even though there are many assessments available for reading and math, when it comes to civics, assessments often only hint at civic knowledge. While knowledge matters, the aims of civic education go far beyond that. And yet, teachers often lack resources for measuring students’ civic learning in ways that encompass these broader aims and are authentic and meaningful.

This need is heightened by major reforms like the Common Core State Standards and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework that highlight the need for new assessments that can speak to the authentic tasks that are often at the heart of high-quality civic education. Fortunately, innovative organizations, districts, and states have begun developing some methods.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve curated many of these resources in the new Essential Question section just added to the Educating for Democracy Deep Dive titled, How do I assess my students’ civic learning? This collection of resources can help you assess students’ online civic reasoning, civic writing, civic presentations, and their performance on civic projects.

Civic Learning Students

Here are some highlights of the resources you’ll find on this page:

  • Graduate capstone project rubrics and resources from Oakland Unified School District that include ways to assess students’ research writing, field research, oral presentations, and theories of action.
  • Civic online reasoning assessments from the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) that focus on students’ ability to effectively search for and evaluate social and political information online.
  • A civic writing rubric and resources from the National Writing Project that guide teachers in supporting students’ writing as a form of civic debate, dialogue, and engagement.
  • Tools to assess students’ ability to develop and present a persuasive and evidence-based policy argument at the culmination of a civic inquiry project, developed by the Measures of Youth Policy Arguments (MYPA) research team.
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As you look through the materials on the Civic Assessment page, we hope that you’ll find tools that deepen your understanding of your students’ learning, inform your instruction of high-quality civic learning, and enable your students to reflect on their own growth as they build their knowledge, skills, and capacities as civic actors.

You can find more ideas and resources related to civic learning in the Educating for Democracy Deep Dive. And to receive updates on new resources and information about civic learning, follow @Ed4Democracy on Twitter, and sign up for the Educating for Democracy newsletter.


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