CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

E-Update Oct 2012

October 17th, 2012
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New CIRCLE Fact Sheet Describes State Laws, Standards and Requirements for K-12 Civics

With funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, CIRCLE has analyzed the standards, course requirements, and mandatory assessments relevant to civic education in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. This is the first such scan in 5 years. The full analysis is summarized in our new fact sheet entitled State Civic Education Requirements, and a spreadsheet provides details on each state.

Some of the highlights:

  • All states have standards for social studies, a broad category that includes civics/government along with other disciplines such as history and geography. The civics theme of power, authority, and government is included in all 51 states’ social studies standards (including the District of Columbia’s). The theme of civic ideals and practices is found in every state’s standard except Missouri’s
  • Thirty-nine  states require at least one course in American government or civics*
  • In the 2012-13 school year, 21 states require a state-designed social studies test. This is a similar number as in 2006 but a dramatic reduction compared to 2001, when 34 states conducted regular assessments on social studies subjects. Two states, Maryland and Florida, have recently instituted new social studies assessments, not yet required this year.
  • Just nine states require students to pass a social studies test in order to graduate from high school: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Georgia’s assessment will be phased out but Maryland and Florida will add high-stakes tests.
  • Eight states have statewide, standardized tests specifically in civics/American government: California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Of those, Ohio and Virginia are the only ones that require students to pass that test to graduate from high school.
  • Social studies assessments have shifted from a combination of multiple-choice and performance tasks to almost exclusively multiple-choice exams since 2000.

Find out more at

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The 2012 Election is only a few weeks away! Follow CIRCLE to get up-to-date information on young people in the 2012 election. We will be reporting the estimated youth voter turnout on November 7th, as well as more detailed information on young voters the week after the election.

Check out our special web portal which answers the most FAQ about young voters in this election. Also, follow us via our website, twitter, and facebook for the most updated information. Contact CIRCLE staff directly with any other questions.

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