Resources to assess student civic competencies and school climate
Creating effective citizenship education accountability systems continues
to be a priority that a wide range of experts and state coalitions
nationwide now agree must be addressed by policymakers. And yet, as
of April 2005, only 19 states' assessment systems include knowledge
of government or civics, and only 11 states include performance on
civics/government or social studies assessments as part of their school
or district accountability systems. According to the Campaign for
the Civic Mission of Schools, identifying and/or developing high-quality
civic assessments of all kinds would enhance accountability for civic
teaching and learning, and motivate states to refine and strengthen
their civic standards.
In August 2004, the ECS National Center for Learning and Citizenship
started collecting, judging and coding existing assessment instruments.
An advisory board specific to this work was convened in January
2005 and offered recommendations to improve the utility and content
coverage of the database. More information on the sources from which
items and instruments were collected for the database is available
for the Civic Mission of Schools and the Center
for Civic Education have contributed resources to support the
creation of this draft database. Further resources are being sought
to develop new items and further expand and validate the database.
We welcome your comments to improve this database. Please contact
Paul Baumann at the ECS National Center for Learning and
Citizenship at 303.299.3608 or firstname.lastname@example.org
with any questions or suggestions.
What does the database include?
The database contains questions categorized by national civics standards
that have been juried by civic learning experts for their clarity
and meaningfulness in relation to the competencies of civic knowledge,
skills and dispositions. Some items were simplified (often to make
them useable at lower grade levels).
Who can use this database?
This database is intended to help research and design officers,
administrative supervisors, school district officials, evaluators
or researchers (including graduate students) and state and district
leaders assess how their schools or districts are performing in
terms of civic knowledge and skills, the dispositions that students
are developing, and the students' views of their schools and classrooms.
Teachers also could use these instruments to assess individual classrooms
on civic knowledge, skills or dispositions. The database was designed
for use in the United States, but some items may be appropriate
for international use as well.
These items can be used in program evaluation, as indicators in
strategic plans, to spur improvement or to address policymakers'
requests for accountability. It is also the intent to stimulate
further consideration of skills and dispositions in instructional
programs. These topics are covered in depth in a paper by Judith
Torney-Purta and Susan Vermeer, Developing
Citizenship Competencies from Kindergarten through Grade 12: A Background
Paper for Policymakers and Educators.
How to navigate the database
A good way to begin is to search the Civic Knowledge category and
look for instruments that match the competencies, grade level and
content areas for the students to be assessed. Because this consists
of materials from released items that mostly assess civic knowledge,
that part of the database has the largest number of items. In addition,
most items are designed for grades 6 and above, and are primarily
multiple choice, short answer and survey questions. The fewest items
are in the Dispositions category. For more suggestions about assessing
dispositions see the links to other websites provided.
The school climate assessment presents a combination of instruments
that are especially relevant to characteristics of the school or
classroom that are thought to be related to the acquisition of civic
competencies. The current version is primarily for adults in the
school and community; a version for students is planned.