SBOE #EdPolicy Roundup: January 2020 – Social Studies & Civics

By Sarah Arrington, Policy Fellow

In the new year, the D.C. State Board of Education will continues its “Research Roundup” series in an effort to increase the focus on selected education research and policy concepts, with a specific emphasis on the implications of research and policy on stakeholders in our communities.

This January 2020 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from the Center for American Progress that examines state civics requirements and one from the National Congress of American Indians that examines state efforts to implement high-quality curriculum about Native American people and culture.

As we have done previously, the State Board will discuss the key findings of each report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.

This month, both reports relate to social studies and civics. The State Board is currently embarking on a process to update the District’s social studies standards under the leadership of Ward 6 Representative Jessica Sutter. The state social studies standards have not been updated since 2006.

“Strengthening Democracy with a Modern Civics Education”, Center for American Progress, December 2019

Summary: Written by Ashley Jeffrey and Scott Sargrad at the Center for American Progress (CAP), this report examines states’ civic and U.S. government requirements, which vary by state and typically include anything from the number of civics course credits, the Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics (AP USGP) exam, and community service hours requirement. They authors also looked at five key elements of a robust civics curriculum. These elements are an explanation of democracy, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, public participation, information on voting rights, and media literacy. Their main findings include:

  • Most states require at least a semester’s worth of standalone civics courses

  • Twenty states requires students to take some sort of civics exam to demonstrate competency

  • Twenty six states employ a robust civics curriculum and/or standards

  • Community service is rarely required

  • There does not appear to be a clear relationship between course requirements, civics exam requirements, or curriculum standards and scores on the AP USGP exam

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SBOE #EdPolicy Research Roundup: February 2019

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

This month, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its effort to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. The February 2019 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from Chiefs for Change on the importance of implementing high-quality, culturally relevant curriculum and a second from the American Academy of Pediatrics on chronic absenteeism and student health.

As we did last month, SBOE will discuss the key findings of each report, as well as explain the implication of the reports on the State Board’s work and priorities.

“Honoring Origins and Helping Students Succeed: The Case for Cultural Relevance in High-Quality Instructional Materials” – Chiefs for Change, February 21, 2019

Summary: With an increasingly diverse student population and a predominantly white educator workforce, the implementation of high-quality, culturally relevant curriculum and instructional materials “can play an important role in helping to systematically remove prejudices about race and class and in honoring students’ diverse backgrounds.” In urban districts, students of color now represent 80 percent of the student body—and people of color make up only about one-fifth of all teachers and principals. Chiefs for Change highlights the work of forward-thinking districts and states that are transitioning to rigorous instructional materials that honor the origins and experiences of their diverse students. The report makes three recommendations for states and districts seeking to incorporate cultural relevance into high-quality curriculum and instructional materials:

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We the People!

Since 1987, The We the People: Citizen & the Constitution Program has brought civic responsibility directly into the minds of students. By simulating a congressional hearing with students in the role of expert witnesses, the program enables students to explore constitutional concepts and apply them to their life and the world around them.

The DC State Board of Education was pleased to host this year’s middle and high school District-wide competitions at One Judiciary Square. The location enabled students to present the information they had researched and prepared in sight of the U.S. Capitol Building and other major federal landmarks.

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