Preparation for informed and engaged citizenship is the primary goal of education

Our Republic at Risk

Nearly two-thirds of Americans cannot name all three branches of government.

Yet three in four people can name all of the Three Stooges (Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education 2011).

These primary voters were highly unrepresentative of the American people as a whole (Pew Research Center 2016).

LESS THAN HALF OF THE PUBLIC CAN NAME A SINGLE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE.

And only 15% of Americans can correctly name John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States; 78% don't know. Yet two-thirds of Americans (66%) know at least one of the judges on the Fox television show American Idol (Annenberg Public Policy Center).

Nearly a quarter of young Americans think that a democratic form of government is bad or very bad.

(Foa, R. and Mounk, Y., 2017).

Intentionally fabricated news stories involving the 2016 presidential candidates were shared at least 38 million times on social media,

Stanford researchers found that "young people's ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak"
(Allcot, H. and Gentzkow, M., 2017)

Americans distrust the government at record levels, and they also distrust their fellow citizens to participate in governance.

According to The Pew Research Center, “Just 34% say they have ‘very great’ or a ‘good deal’ of trust and confidence in the political wisdom of the American people. Fully 63% have ‘not very much’ confidence or ‘no confidence at all’” (Pew Research Center 2015).

Unequal access to quality civic-learning opportunities

College-bound young people (about half the youth population) are much more civically involved than their non-college-bound peers.

Rates of voting and volunteering are at least twice as high for those who attend college (CIRCLE 2009).

Students who are white get more high quality civic-learning opportunities than low-income students, those who are not going to college, and students of color.

(Kahne, J. and Middaugh, E., 2008).

There are persistent wealth and income gaps with 8th graders.

Non-subsidized lunch students scored 15 points higher than subsidized lunch students, who scored 15 points higher than free lunch students on the NAEP.

African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native students scored significantly lower than white students in recent national assessments.

In 2014 scores were 27 points lower for African American and 23 points lower for Latino students.

Inadequate civic education for the 21st Century

Nationwide, more than a third of today’s high school seniors lack even basic civics knowledge and skills.

The 21st century civic environment—characterized by social media, weak civic institutions, and complex issues—requires new forms of learning.

Only about one in four students reach "proficient" scores on the naep and have shown flat outcomes since 1970s.

Data on adults’ civic knowledge also show that even when students learn basic facts during a civics course, they often do not gain the motivations and skills to update those facts in adulthood.

School climates characterized by disorder or by a lack of student voice and fair treatment of all students suppress civic knowledge and engagement.

Civic Learning can make a difference

50 STATES PLUS THE DC HAVE A REQUIREMENT TO INTEGRATE CIVICS CONTENT INTO OTHER EXISTING COURSES OR TO OFFER AT LEAST ONE COURSE IN CIVICS AND/OR GOVERNMENT (CIRCLE 2013).

YET STUDENTS ARE FALLING AND LACK THE NECESSARY SKILLS OF CITIZENSHIP BECAUSE WE ARE NOT IMPLEMENTING INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES THAT WORK.

Civic education requires interactive and engaging experiences throughout the curriculum and an overall school climate that supports student engagement in a fair and ordered community.

YOUNG ADULTS WHO REPORT THAT THEY RECEIVED INTERACTIVE CIVIC EDUCATION IN THEIR HIGH SCHOOL—INCLUDING MODERATED DISCUSSIONS OF CURRENT CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES—ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE INFORMED VOTERS.

(KAWASHIMA-GINSBERG, K. AND LEVINE, P. 2013).

A META-ANALYSIS OF 62 STUDIES INVOLVING 11,837 STUDENTS FOUND THAT SERVICE-LEARNING SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED ATTITUDES TOWARD SCHOOL AND LEARNING, CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, SOCIAL SKILLS, AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE.

(CELIO, C., DURLAK, J. AND DYMNICK, A. 2011).

A WEALTH OF PROGRAM EVALUATIONS AND OTHER STUDIES ALSO DEMONSTRATE POSITIVE EFFECTS ON STUDENTS’ CIVIC ENGAGEMENT FROM PARTICIPATING IN EXTRACURRICULAR GROUPS, ENGAGING IN SIMULATIONS OF ADULT CIVIC ROLES, AND EXERCISING RESPONSIBLE VOICE IN THE GOVERNANCE OF THE SCHOOL.

(GUARDIAN OF DEMOCRACY).

IMPROVING THE CIVIC ENGAGEMENT OF THE U.S. POPULATION WILL REQUIRE CONCERTED EFFORTS ON MANY FRONTS. IMPROVEMENT IN THE CIVIC KNOWLEDGE OF POTENTIAL FUTURE VOTERS IS ONE KEY AREA.

(ETS REPORT ON CIVIC KNOWLEDGE AND ENGAGEMENT 2012).

OUR NATION’S HIGH SCHOOLS CAN PLAY A POSITIVE ROLE BY BOOSTING GRADUATION RATES, INCREASING KNOWLEDGE OF POLITICAL ISSUES AND CIVICS, EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CIVIC ACTIVITIES, AND ENCOURAGING THOSE OF VOTING AGE TO REGISTER BEFORE GRADUATION.

(ETS REPORT ON CIVIC KNOWLEDGE AND ENGAGEMENT 2012).

Fact Sheet co-authored by the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, iCivics and Peter Levine, Tufts University.